27 November 2015

The updated AIDA report on Greece documents persisting deficiencies in the asylum procedure and reception conditions. Greece, which has seen as many as 715,000 persons arrive on its territory since the beginning of 2015, still suffers from a severe lack of hosting facilities, inadequate systems for registration and the lack of a proper identification and referral mechanism for the most vulnerable. As of the end of September, no First Reception Centre or Mobile Unit had been operating on Chios, Kos, Leros or Rhodes, while Samos is still only equipped with a Mobile Unit which is unable to meet the current needs.

Persons in need of protection still face considerable obstacles to accessing the asylum procedure. In Athens for example, the Asylum Service has set up a system for appointments through Skype, which meets significant shortcomings in practice. Without adequate access to registration, persons remain at risk of detention and deportation as irregular migrants.

Push-backs have remained an issue of concern at the Greek-Turkish border, with a number of incidents reported in 2015 by various NGOs, such as the Greek Council for Refugees, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Médecins Sans Frontières and others.

The findings of the AIDA report are of particular relevance in view of the European Commission’s intention to consider a recommendation for the reinstatement of transfers of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation, four years after their halt by the MSS v Belgium and Greeceand NS v Secretary of State for the Home Department  rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 27 November 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.