12 August 2015
In its report on Kos, compiled following a visit in June 2015, GCR notes the complete lack of reception structures for newly arriving refugees, despite a tremendous relative increase of 1423% in arrivals during the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014, with over 10,000 people coming mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. As the local population and municipality of Kos remain opposed to the creation of reception centres on the island, refugees have to walk to the “Captain Elias” hotel, which is informally accommodating new arrivals under appalling conditions.
Upon arrival, refugees are formally under custody by the Hellenic Coastguard following their interception for irregular entry, but are not detained in a specific area, the report explains. While the Coastguard is in charge of providing food and first aid, no assistance is provided; food was only given to refugees by a civil society initiative, “Solidarity Kos”, but the initiative stopped on 3 August.
Delays in registration of new arrivals by the Coastguard hinders people from accessing documents in order to leave the island, and have recently triggered large protests against the authorities. Following this first registration, they are registered by the Police and fingerprinted in Eurodac. This process takes between 7 and 10 days, while Syrians are subject to a separate fast-track procedure. After that stage, persons are allowed to travel freely within Greece, but a number of them lack the financial means to purchase boat tickets and are therefore unable to leave Kos. The majority of refugees have no intention of applying for asylum in Greece, but even those who may decide to do so on Kos have no way of registering their claim, as there are no means for them to be transferred to the competent Regional Asylum Office on the island of Rhodes.
In Eidomeni, following missions in April and July 2015, GCR details the extremely dangerous path from Greece to FYROM, where most refugees are trapped in the frontier line between the two countries. Thousands of refugees have gathered at the border in June and July, attempting to obtain documents from FYROM authorities enabling them to transit through the country within 72 hours; this policy, however, appears not to be applied by border guards in practice. The report states that approximately 2,000 persons have been forcibly returned to Greece, while GCR documents numerous testimonies of violent push backs against refugees at the border.
- GCR, ‘GCR mission to Kos’, August 2015, available in Greek.
- GCR, ‘GCR mission to Eidomeni’, August 2015, available in Greek.
- UNHCR, ‘Number of refugees and migrants arriving in Greece soars 750 per cent over 2014’, 7 August 2015.
- ECRE, ‘Greece: ECRE members respond to asylum crisis on the islands’, 17 July 2015.
This article originally appeared in the Asylum Information Database website.