Tag Archives: Greece

Global Event: The Afghanistan Exodus

The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers

The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.

While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.

Continue reading Global Event: The Afghanistan Exodus

Europe & Eurasia Research | Religious & Belief Minorities

Religion and National Identity in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on the relationship between religious and national identity in Eastern European and Eurasian countries, noting changes in the way that religious identification has influenced national identity since the fall of atheist fundamentalism with the USSR. For religious and belief minorities—now including atheists—the relationship can be a troubling one, particularly as resurgent nationalism in the region has been accompanied by xenophobia and religious discrimination.

Here are highlights from the findings:

70% (Orthodox-majority) / 57% (Catholic-majority)

Average among countries who believe majority religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

82% (Armenia)
81% (Georgia)
78% (Serbia)
76% (Greece)
74% (Romania)
66% (Bulgaria)
63% (Moldova)
57% (Russia)
51% (Ukraine)
45% (Belarus)

Percentage within Orthodox-majority countries who believe Orthodox religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

64% (Poland)
58% (Croatia)
56% (Lithuania)
43% (Hungary)

Percentage within Catholic-majority countries who believe Catholic religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity


Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (Pew Research Center | May 2017)

Europe & Eurasia Research | LGBTI

The State of LGBTI Security in Europe

ILGA-Europe recently released its annual report on the state of LGBT rights and security across the Europe. Covering developments in individual countries and transnational institutions from 2015, the report notes increasing legal protections for gender minorities and family and partnership rights for sexual minorities in Southern and Western Europe as well as ongoing political exclusion, persecution, and violence in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Here are some of the highlights:


Rated the most progressive European country, Malta’s groundbreaking law prohibiting surgical intervention into a person’s sex characteristics without consent and inclusive education policies for trans, intersex, and other gender minorities were cited as distinctive policies.

Finland, France, Greece, Ireland

Other countries with significant judicial or policy victories regarding the rights of gender minorities.

Ireland, Luxembourg

Countries extending marriage rights to same-sex couples

Cyprus, Greece

Countries extending civil partnership rights to same-sex couples

Austria, Portugal

Countries extending adoption rights to same-sex couples

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia

Bottom three countries for LGBTI security

Armenia, FYR Macedonia, Slovenia

Countries blocking same-sex marriage rights

Hungary, Montenegro, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine

Countries denying, limiting, or antagonizing organization and assembly rights of LGBTI civil society groups

Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe 2016 (ILGA-Europe)

Rainbow Europe
Azerbaijan worst place to be gay in Europe, finds LGBTI index” (The Guardian)
Which EU states are out of touch on gay marriage?” (euronews)

Greece & Turkey News | Migrants & Refugees

Greece begins mass migrant deportations to Turkey in accordance with controversial new EU deal
  • More than 130 migrants were on the first boat from Lesbos to the Turkish port of Dikili, including Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Indians, Syrians, and an Iraqi.
  • To stem the flow of human trafficking across the Aegean Sea, Turkey has agreed to receive migrants and refugees who have arrived in Greece via the Aegean without authorization.
  • In return, the EU will take in Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and give Turkey money, visa-free travel, and progress in its EU membership application.

Read more:
Migrants sent back from Greece arrive in Turkey under EU deal” (Reuters)
First EU migrant deportations from Greece to Turkey ‘go smoothly’, despite protests” (euronews)
First boats returning migrants and refugees from Greece arrive in Turkey” (The Guardian)

Interregional Feature | Refugees with Mental Illness

The Spiraling Mental Health of Syrian Refugees

“Is it because these refugees are coming from somewhere where they’ve seen their families butchered and suffered some kind of trauma? […] Or is it because as refugees they had to wander across half of Africa for a couple years before they ever got to Europe? Or is it because that when they got to Europe and eventually Sweden, they lived in fear of being kicked out of the country?”

As refugees find themselves piling up at closed borders, stuck indefinitely in overcrowded camps, and resettled in countries they may have had little to no connection to, reports are indicating an increasing prevalence of mental health problems and risk of long-term illness. The stresses of war, upended lives, separated families, life-threatening travel, and an uncertain future have caught up to a growing number of refugees, causing severe degradation of their mental health relative to other non-refugee migrant groups.

Humanitarian workers have observed that deteriorating mental health conditions with little access to appropriate healthcare have contributed to violence and vulnerability to radicalization. While refugees tell stories of loss, desperation, and disillusionment, field psychologists report increases in or risk of PTSD, panic disorders, depression, anxiety, and a range of psychotic conditions among refugee populations, further compounding their already marginalized status and setting the stage for potentially lifelong psychological battles.

Read more:
Refugees Suffer a Higher Rate of Psychotic Disorders” (Scientific American)
Lebanon struggles to help Syrian refugees with mental health problems” (Reuters)
Idomeni’s refugees suffer mental anguish” (Deutsche Welle)
Psychological toll on Syrian refugees alarming, many suffer from mental illnesses” (The Daily Sabah)
Syrian Refugees In Canada Face Ongoing Health Challenges: Study” (The Huffington Post)

(Image Credit: D. Tosidis/Deutsche Welle)

Greece & Libya News | Migrants & Refugees

January sees record number of migrant deaths in eastern Mediterranean
  • To date, there have been 218 deaths as migrants have crossed the Aegean Sea to reach Greek shores, a number not reached until mid-September in 2015.
  • The spike in deaths comes as the overall number of migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe has reached its lowest point since June 2015.
  • The migration shift occurs as a changing of the guard has taken place among people-smugglers in North Africa, with the brief calm in traffic from Libya having recently given way to a fresh, more lethal round.

Read more:
Mediterranean deaths soar as people-smugglers get crueler: IOM” (Reuters)
Mapped: The Refugee Crisis in the Aegean Sea” (Foreign Policy)
Protests at Greek border after more migrants drown in Aegean Sea” (AP, via The Chicago Tribune)

(Image Credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)

Greece News | Migrants

Migrants clash with police on Greek island of Kos
  • Police used fire extinguishers and batons against the migrants after hundreds began protesting in the streets of the small island just off the coast of Turkey.
  • More than a thousand migrants had gathered at a stadium to await immigration papers and grew frustrated by the slow process.
  • The tensions followed a Greek police officer’s suspension the previous day for assaulting a Pakistani migrant.

Read the full story at Al Jazeera America and Reuters.

Europe News | Migrants & Refugees

European Commission announces 2.4 billion in funding support as transregional migration surge continues
  • The aid will be disbursed over six years, with the two countries most acutely affected to receive the largest share: 560 million for Italy and €473 million for Greece.
  • France will receive €27 million later in the month, and the U.K. already received €20 million in emergency aid in March.
  • France and the U.K. are expected to use the funding they have received to address the situation in Calais, the departure point for many migrants looking to cross into Britain.

Read the full story at Reuters.

Italy PM calls for EU asylum rule revision as his country struggles with migrant influx
  • PM Matteo Renzi has called for a change in the Dublin II regulation, which stipulates that refugees must apply for asylum in the country of entry, as neighboring states France and Austria tighten their border controls.
  • With Southern European states like Italy and Greece bearing the brunt of the historic trans-Mediterranean migration taking place, Renzi argues the regulation is standing in the way of other countries bearing their fair share of incoming refugees.
  • Renzi criticized the EU’s proposed refugee distribution plan that will relocate 24,000 from Italy and 16,000 from Greece to other countries in the European bloc.

“Migration is a serious issue and – let’s be frank – the answers that Europe is giving are insufficient. Relocating only 24,000 people is almost a provocation.”

More on this story at Deutsche Welle.

(Image Credit: via Deutsche Welle)

The NY Times has published a graphically enhanced look at the global migration crisis that is being called the worst since World War II
  • 38 million have been displaced within their own countries, while 16.7 million refugees have fled internationally.
  • Roughly 11 million Syrians and 3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced, while 4 million Syrians have left the country, straining the intake abilities of neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
  • Approximately 25,000 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants have been trafficked via sea in Southeast Asia, some finding conditional acceptance in Indonesia and Malaysia and others being repatriated.
  • To date, around 78,000 have traveled across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and Turkey, fleeing violence, persecution, and poor economic prospects in North, West, and East Africa.
  • Finally, the conflict in Ukraine has displaced 1.3 million inside the country and sent 867,000 abroad, mostly to Russia with few European countries willing to accept them.

More on this story at The New York Times.