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The EU's Failed Asylum Rules Desperate Measures, Bill Frelick, International Herald Tribune, November 21, 2008

The EU's Failed Asylum Rules Desperate Measures, Bill Frelick, International Herald Tribune, November 21, 2008

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Published by Bill Frelick
European asylum, asylum, Bill Frelick, Greece, Dublin II Regulation
European asylum, asylum, Bill Frelick, Greece, Dublin II Regulation

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Published by: Bill Frelick on Aug 05, 2011
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08/05/2011

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76 of 180 DOCUMENTSThe International Herald TribuneNovember 21, 2008 Friday
The EU's failed asylum rules;Desperate measures
BYLINE:Bill Frelick
- The New York Times Media Group
SECTION:
OPINION; Pg. 6
LENGTH:
752 words
DATELINE:
ATHENSIt's easy to see why Iraqis overwhelmingly sought asylum in Sweden last year. The country had granted 91 percent of their asylum requests the year before. But why would the next-largest number apply in Greece, which had a zeroapproval rate for Iraqis? And why did relatively few Iraqis, the largest group of asylum seekers in the European Union,seek asylum in Britain, with troops on the ground in Iraq - or Germany, with Europe's largest population and strongesteconomy, or other EU countries?EU asylum rules provide the answer: Many Iraqis lodged their asylum claims in Greece because they had no otherchoice. Because of its location, Greece is the most favorable entry point to the EU for Iraqis. And the EU system,known as Dublin II, dictates that claims are generally assessed in the first EU state a person enters.An Iraqi Kurd from Kirkuk told me of his predicament: ''I wanted to go to another country to seek asylum, but a friendtold me that because they took my fingerprints, they would send me back to Athens. I have now been here a monthwithout papers. Now I am in a hole. I can't go out. I can't stay. Every day I think I made a mistake to leave my country. Iwant to go back, but how can I? I would be killed if I go back. But they treat you like a dog here. I have nothing. Norights. No friends.''The Dublin system fails to consider the legitimate interest asylum seekers have in choosing where to apply and unfairlyallocates the burden of processing claims to the states on the EU's external frontiers.Left nearly alone to bear the Iraqi refugee burden in Europe, both Sweden and Greece have reacted in ways that are asunfortunate as they are predictable. Sweden has become much less generous in offering asylum. By the first trimester of 2008, it was granting only 25 percent of requests. The result? The number of Iraqi asylum applicants in Sweden fell byhalf in the first half of 2008.Greece has taken the approach, documented in a Human Rights Watch report to be released next week, of systematically rounding up and detaining migrants in dirty, overcrowded conditions in the border region with Turkeyand forcibly and secretly expelling them to Turkey. Coast Guard officials push migrants from Greek territorial waters,sometimes puncturing inflatable boats or otherwise disabling their vessels. For those managing to gain a foothold inGreece, the authorities block access to asylum procedures and deny nearly all asylum claims.A 34-year-old Iraqi Turkoman from Kirkuk who said that he made 10 attempts to cross into Greece before succeedingPage 1

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