As States increase border controls, UNHCR calls for sensitivity for those fleeing persecution

© UNHCR/J.Björgvinsson

Whenever States propose measures aimed at preventing migrants from entering their territory, UNHCR is concerned that concrete guarantees should be created for those seeking international protection. UNHCR has received many queries concerning Greece’s recent suggestion to build a 12 km fence along its side of the border with Turkey in the Evros region.

While every State has the right to control its borders, it is clear that among the many people transiting through Turkey toward the European Union, a significant number is fleeing violence and persecution. It is therefore vital to establish border control mechanisms sensitive to the needs of people seeking protection.

Building fences rarely solves the underlying problem of migratory pressures. As with other measures which indiscriminately block arrivals, there is a risk that those seeking asylum will resort to even riskier routes to safety - a reason why large numbers of asylum seekers today find themselves in the hands of smuggling gangs.

The problem in Greece is compounded by the fact that the asylum system is still not functioning, despite ongoing reform efforts. At present, many thousands of asylum seekers in Greece are living in limbo. UNHCR is supporting the Greek Government to establish a fair process for assessing the claims of asylum seekers.