HRW denounces Greece over migrants held on warship

Recently arrived refugees and migrants enter a warship provided for their accommodation at the Port of Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos. (AFP)
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Updated 10 March 2020

HRW denounces Greece over migrants held on warship

  • Over 450 migrants detained on a navy ship docked in Mytilene port in Lesbos
  • In Lesbos, more than 19,000 refugees live in miserable conditions in the Moria camp

ATHENS: Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday called on Greece to reverse its “draconian policy” toward over 450 migrants detained on a navy ship docked in Mytilene port in Lesbos.
The men, women and children were among those picked up by the Greek Coast Guard since March 1, when Turkey decided to open its borders and let make the crossing.
Since Turkey’s February 28 decision, more than 1,700 people have arrived on the Greek islands in the Aegean off the Turkish coast.
Many of those who reached Lesbos, which is already struggling to cope with the numbers of migrants there, were transferred last Wednesday to the ship.
HRW, quoting a Syrian asylum seeker on board, said many of the 451 detained were women and children and criticized the conditions on board.
On March 1, Greece announced it would not accept asylum requests from the new arrivals the day after Ankara opened its borders, a decision condemned by the UN refugee organization UNHCR.
“Greece’s decision to detain more than 450 people on a naval vessel and refuse to allow them to lodge asylum claims flagrantly violates international and European law,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
“The action may amount to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”
Bill Frelick, HRW’s director of migrant and refugee rights, added: “Greece should immediately reverse this draconian policy, properly receive these people in safe and decent conditions, and allow them to lodge asylum claims.”




The Greek islands that are witnessing the greatest influx of migrants.

Human Rights Watch said that the Greek authorities had denied them access to the dock area where the detainees were kept during the day — or to the vessel where they spend the night.
The Syrian, who contacted HRW by telephone, said most of the detainees were Afghans, but that 118 are Arabs, including Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians. Somalis, Congolese, and others from Africa were also on board.
“The children are not receiving sufficient food and clothing,” he told HRW.
“We had only three toilets for 451 people until today, when they brought five portable toilets. There is no shower, no soap.”
Pregnant women were among those detained, but it was not clear if they were getting proper medical care, he added.
He also said he had been denied direct access to a lawyer.
In Lesbos, more than 19,000 refugees live in miserable conditions in the Moria camp, which was built to hold fewer than 3,000 people.
Tension has escalated on the island with the upsurge in arrivals last week.
The Greek government’s decision last month to build new closed camps on the islands, provoked an angry backlash from residents.


Narendra Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

Updated 26 September 2020

Narendra Modi pledges to use India vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’

  • Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a “people’s vaccine” that is available and affordable everywhere

NEW YORK: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country’s vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
“As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly. “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.”
Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials — the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy — and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
Modi said in August that India was ready to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines when scientists gave the go-ahead.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a “people’s vaccine” that is available and affordable everywhere and expressed concern on Tuesday that some countries were “reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations.”
“Such ‘vaccinationalism’ is not only unfair, it is self-defeating. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Everybody knows that,” he told the General Assembly
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the General Assembly on Friday: “Whoever finds the vaccine must share it.”
“Some might see short- term advantage, or even profit,” Morrison said. “But I assure you to anyone who may think along those lines, humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge.
“Australia’s pledge is clear: if we find the vaccine we will share it. That’s the pledge we all must make,” Morrison said.
Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday that the poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a coronavirus vaccine is ready.
India, the world’s second most populous country after China, has recorded more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19, second only behind the United States.
Its death toll as of this week was more than 90,000 and it has consistently reported the highest tally of daily cases anywhere in the world as a dense population and often rudimentary health care infrastructure hamper attempts to control the pandemic.