GREEK COURT RULING
Migrants will no longer be detained on Aegean islands
Refugees and migrants who cross by boat from Turkey to Greece’s Aegean islands must be allowed to travel on to the mainland, a Greek court has ruled, raising concerns about a fresh wave of asylum seekers to Europe.
The ruling comes two years after border closures and a controversial deal with Turkey shut down the Balkan migration route.
It could act as an incentive for refugees, including Syrians fleeing war in their homeland to head for Greece with the aim of reaching northern Europe.
The decision was met with fury, however, by the 15,000 asylum seekers who have been stuck in camps on the islands for up to two years. The ruling does not apply retrospectively and so they will not be allowed to leave until their applications have been considered - a tortuously long process. Under the new ruling new arrivals may be able to effectively jump the queue and go straight to the mainland.
Protests and riots have broken out in the camps in the past and container cabins and other structures have been set on fire amid rising tensions with authorities.
Migrants and refugees who make it to the Greek mainland could try to reach Western European countries such as Germany, which took in nearly a million asylum seekers, although the journey will be much harder than in 2015.
Border controls have been strengthened and fences built along frontiers by countries like Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. There is also concern about whether migration centres on the Greek mainland will be able to handle a fresh influx of people.