10 April 2015

In its recommendations to the new Greek government UNHCR has called, amongst others, for the revocation of a domestic Decree allowing the prolongation of detention beyond 18 months in pre-removal detention centres as well as a consistent and timely examination of the legality of administrative detention orders. UNHCR has also requested the Greek authorities to process and examine expeditiously the asylum applications of persons placed in pre-removal detention and to thoroughly examine deportation orders, issuing a renewable six-month suspension if removal is not feasible.

UNHCR calls on Greece to ensure that informal returns at the borders do not occur, that any allegations of these returns are investigated and that increased human resources are available to coast guard and local authorities in order to adequately receive refugees entering the country.

In terms of reception, UNHCR calls on Greece to ensure that First Reception Centres are fully equipped with staff and a framework for referring persons with special reception needs to appropriate facilities is set up for vulnerable applicants. Moreover, UNHCR requests Greece to increase the number of reception places to address the basic needs of asylum seekers and to ensure that reception centres meet adequate standards.

UNHCR also urges Greece to establish a public legal aid system for asylum seekers, to prioritise the examination of the back-log of cases as well as to review the applications of persons given humanitarian statuses under the old regime. According to the report these persons are in fact eligible for subsidiary protection.  In addition UNHCR recommends that Greece ensures adequate protection of unaccompanied children by assigning responsibility to an administrative entity with expertise in child welfare. The administrative entity should assess protection needs, co-ordinate with different stakeholders and ensure that children have practical access to asylum procedures.

Lastly, UNHCR urges Greece to expand the scope of family reunification to subsidiary protection beneficiaries, reduce the time to respond to reunification requests as well as ensuring that the renewal of residence permits are swift and effective.  

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 April 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.