Despite not meeting requirements for registration, an unknown NGO has become a key partner for the Greek government, receiving millions of Euro of EU funds for housing refugees under the ESTIA II and ESTIA 2021 programmes. The Greek government admits lead contamination in Moria 2.0 but concludes no “special intervention” required. A higher German court rules against return of people with protection status in Greece.
An NGO under the name ‘Hopeland’ received 1.1 million Euro for housing 1,002 refugees and asylum seekers in Attica and Central Greece from mid-October 2020 until the end of the year, under the ESTIA II programme. Hopeland will also be heavily involved in the ESTIA 2021 housing programme and is expected to receive a total of more than 6.5 million Euro in EU funds under its contract with the Greek government. Reportedly, the unknown and recently founded organisation has no prior experience providing support for asylum seekers and refugees and became a key implementing partner for the Greek government without meeting registration requirements set by legal reforms amid the ongoing crackdown of other NGOs. Despite a series of successive parliamentary questions asked in October 2020, December 2020 and January 2021 on how Hopeland managed to pass the onerous registration requirements and on which grounds they were selected for ESTIA funding, the Greek government has provided little detail on the process.
In response to reports of lead contamination at the Moria 2.0 camp in Kara Tepe on Lesvos established on a former firing range, the Greek government agreed with the European Commission to conduct an investigation. In a statement released on 23 January the government admits that samples from the camp reveal lead contamination. The government notes that 11 of those taken within the residential area “had lead levels below the acceptable limits” and one taken in the administrative area exceeded the “acceptable limit” and concludes: “So far, we are confident that our detailed evaluation of lead presence in the camp has not revealed levels that require special intervention or the revision of the construction plan”. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) “There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects” and several organisations including ECRE member Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), the DunyaCollective, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) urge full transparency of the results and exact locations of the testing, further testing as well as potential evacuation of the camp. While the Greek government has not released the report leading to its conclusions, it has been leaked and is critically scrutinised.
Meanwhile, conditions in the camp continue to deteriorate. More than 7,000 people in the camp have little access to running water, experience frequent power-cuts are exposed to rain, storm and freezing temperatures as the weather worsens.
The Coordinating Committee of Loutropoli Thermis on Lesvos and the Coordinating Committee of Chios Residents have called for the dismantling of the camps stating that the islands should serve only the purpose of identifying and registering migrants. The situation on the Greek islands was among the topics on 27 January, when MEPs from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) hosted a debate with the European Parliament.
Two decisions of the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, effectively prevent returns by German authorities of people with protection status in Greece. The court established that they would be at risk of serious danger of inhuman and degrading treatment and be in a situation of extreme material hardship in the country. While It is not possible to appeal the judgment itself, authorities have the option of filing an appeal to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.
For further information:
- ECRE, Greece: More Arrivals with One Death Reported, Conditions Worsening as Winter Hits Island Camps, January 2021
- ECRE, Greece: Significant Decrease of Arrivals – Chaos Continues, January 2021
- ECRE, Greece: Deaths and Push-backs Continue, Racist Attack on Hosting Centre for Unaccompanied Children, Camp Conditions Deteriorating, January 2021
- ECRE, Greece: Authorities Block Scrutiny of Camp Conditions, Lead Poisoning adds to Risks in Moria 2.0, Concern over Remote Interviews, December 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Migration Minister Praises Conditions in Moria 2.0, Pushbacks and Shipwrecks Continue, December 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Frontex Denies Involvement in Pushbacks, Expert Council Critique of NGO Registration Rules, November 2020
- ECRE, Greece: EU to Finance Camps on Islands, CPT Calls for Reforms of Detention System and end of Pushbacks, Whereabouts of Rejected Asylum Seekers Unknown, November 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Father of Drowned Child Arrested, Thousands of Pushbacks Documented, Frontex Involvement in Pushbacks Under Scrutiny, November 2020
- Joint statement, Turning rhetoric into reality: New monitoring mechanism at European borders should ensure fundamental rights and accountability, November 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Well-run PIKPA Camp Evicted while Situation on Islands and Mainland Continue to Deteriorate, November 2020
- ECRE, Frontex: Commission Calls for Urgent Meeting over Complicity in Pushbacks, Critique of 100 Million Euro Investment in Drone Surveillance, October 2020
- ECRE, Greece: PIKPA Eviction Postponed, Shortages in New Lesvos Camp, COVID Outbreak Continues, New Pushback Incidents, Golden Dawn Leadership Straight to Jail, October 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Golden Dawn Declared Criminal Organisation, People Return from Mainland to Lesvos, Push-backs Continue, October 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Closure of Accommodation for Vulnerable Amid Deteriorating Conditions in Camps, Transfers to Mainland, October 2020
- ECRE, Greece: New Camp Filling Up, Conditions are Harsh and COVID on the Rise, September 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Transfers to Improvised Tent Camp has Begun, Thousands Sleeping Rough, EU to Co-manage New Reception Structure in Lesbos, September 2020
- Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), Solidarity Now and others: Joint statement of 48 NGOs regarding the fire at the Registration and Identification Centre at Moria, September 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Moria Fire – Thousands Sleeping Rough, Chaos Prevails, Calls for Structural Solutions, September 2020
- ECRE, Greece: 10,000 People Prevented Access, Lockdown Extended, Recognition Rate Increases, September 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Border Fence Extension, Denial of Push-backs, Anti-migrant Violence, Continued Destitution, Drop in Protection Rate, August 2020
- ECRE, Greece: No Accountability for Deadly Shooting, Continued Push-backs and Evictions, Critique of Crack-down on NGOs, German States Willing to Relocate, July 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Camp Lockdown Extended, Children in Detention, Cuts in Housing, Red-tape on NGOs and Continued Push-backs, June 2020
- AIDA, 2019 Update Greece, June 2020
- ECRE, Greece: Pushbacks Continue, Eviction of Makeshift Camp in Athens, June 2020
- ECRE, Greece: 500 to Escape Greece – Thousands Facing Destitution, Detention and Push-backs, June 2020