Seven unaccompanied minors will be immediately transferred from the Samos hotspot: this is the decision made by the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) following the request of Still I Rise in collaboration with Refugee Law Clinic Berlin. After the unprecedented outcome achieved in January for minors in the Samos hotspot by the united efforts of Still I Rise, GCR and ASGI, we are continuing our fight to support as many minors as possible to be released from degrading life conditions which breach their fundamental human rights.
Thanks to this new decision, the ECHR acknowledges once again the disregard in the Samos hotspot of article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, prohibiting torture, and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Following the ECHR decision, the Greek government is to immediately transfer the children to safer accommodations. However, as of today, despite the ECHR indication, and considering that the latest of the seven procedures was approved on the 9th of April (the first one dated March 16th), these unaccompanied minors have not yet been transferred.
Life conditions in the Samos hotspot are worsening every day, as highlighted in a report published by Human Rights Watch. The island is not prepared to face a potential COVID-19 emergency and the measures taken so far are not sufficient, aiming to protect primarily Samos local residents, and not the refugees who lack hygiene facilities and the ability to distance themselves for protection. .
Currently, in Samos a partial lockdown has been implemented for locals and refugees. Most services in the city of Vathy, usually dedicated to the support and assistance of immigrants, are now closed, causing dramatic backlogs to the asylum process on the top of an already difficult situation. Addressing hygiene: local non-government organizations which previously provided access to toilets and showers for refugees have been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. People have difficulty taking care of their basic personal hygiene needs and those with skin conditions struggle with impossible washing recommendations from health professionals. Many people, including unaccompanied minors, are forced to use the bush in the hotspot area as a toilet, as almost all other options have been closed.
This situation breaches the ECHR decision regarding the seven unaccompanied minors indicated by the interim measures. The measures also specify that adequate hygiene kits be provided to unaccompanied minors as well as sufficient support to face the COVID-19 emergency.
The ones who pay the highest price in this situation are unaccompanied minors who live in the hotspot. Suicide attempts and self-harm episodes are strikingly frequent in this population. The hotspot is an exceptionally difficult psychological context which becomes more challenging every day.
Still I Rise will continue to petition the ECHR for the most vulnerable children, hoping to support as many children as possible to escape a situation which is likely to compromise their psychological and physical health far into the future. (Press release)