Migrants killed in Evros wildfires victims of ‘two great injustices of our times’: Amnesty International

The death of 19 people believed to have been migrants and refugees in fires in northeastern Greece are victims of two great injustices of our times, Amnesty International (AI) said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Their bodies were found on Tuesday near the national park of Dadia, a region bordering Turkey that is a frequent entry point for refugees.

AI has also called on the Greek authorities to urgently evacuate all those stranded in the region and who are unable to move safely due to fires and to ensure that refugees and migrants who have entered into Greece irregularly can seek asylum and are not illegally and forcibly returned at the border. 

“The 19 people killed by wildfires in northern Greece appear to be victims of two great injustices of our times. On the one hand, catastrophic climate change, which governments are failing to address and is worsening the scale of wildfires worldwide as rising temperatures lead to longer and more destructive fire seasons,” Adriana Tidona, migration researcher at Amnesty International, said. “On the other hand, the lack of access to safe and legal routes for some people on the move, and the persistence of migration management policies predicated on racialized exclusion and deadly deterrence, including racist border violence.”

Dimitris Kairidis, Greece’s migration minister, denounced the “murderous activity of criminal traffickers” which is “what endangers the lives of many migrants both on land and at sea every day.” 

While migration numbers into Greece from Turkey have dropped in recent years as a result of strict border controls and deals with Ankara, Greece is a major entry point to the EU for Asians and Africans fleeing conflict or poverty, who mostly leave Turkey in unseaworthy boats. 

Stronger patrols by Greek authorities, assisted by the EU border agency, have restricted flows in recent years after nearly a million people made the journey in 2015. Greece, however, remains a front-line country for migration to Europe.

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