The AIRE Centre & ECRE Report Publication
Brussels/London, 13 July 2016. More than 200,000 people have fled conflict and persecution to seek protection in Europe, so far this year. 70% of these people have landed in Greece and most remain stranded. Though the closure of the ‘Western Balkans route’ at the beginning of 2016 and the EU-Turkey deal, cast an international spotlight on Greece, the procedural challenges to accessing protection and gaps in the provision of information and legal assistance, have seldom been scrutinised.
A report launched today by The AIRE Centre and ECRE finds that refugees in Greece continue to face challenges in accessing asylum due to increased complexity and procedural layers, a lack of simple and unequivocal information, as well as significant gaps in legal assistance.
The report, which follows a field visit to the country between 28 May and 6 June, also emphasises the need for international organisations to be mindful of the long present efforts of Greek lawyers and NGOs in the field, and recommends that new initiatives should be targeted and sustainable.
“Behind the ‘crisis’ veil in Greece lies an asylum system, with its own authorities, legal processes and long-standing challenges. International initiatives from practitioners, NGOs and volunteers have tried to alleviate gaps in areas such as legal information or assistance,” says Minos Mouzourakis, Asylum Information Database (AIDA) Coordinator at ECRE. “This support needs to be provided not only to Greece, but with Greece. Effective and sustainable legal aid and assistance to asylum seekers can only be achieved if existing Greek structures are strengthened through funding and capacity development.”
The report also draws attention to important weaknesses in procedures for identifying and effectively processing the asylum applications of the most vulnerable.
“A spotlight must be placed on identification and protection of vulnerable persons, such as victims of human trafficking or victims of torture,” says Markella Papadouli, Legal Project Manager at The AIRE Centre, “the demand of covering the basic needs of those arriving daily on the Greek shores cannot serve as an eim xcuse to neglect the significance of early identification and intervention for the protection of vulnerable persons.”
EU Member States have been slow to respond, and the little action taken has failed to deal with people in a humane way. The AIRE Centre and ECRE call on EU Member States to comply with their obligations under the Dublin Regulation, and to engage in the relocation scheme in good faith in order for asylum seekers in Greece, and across Europe, to move safely and benefit from effective legal channels.
Download the full report here:
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Public Information and Membership Officer, ECRE
Tel: +32 2 212 08 20