The circumstances under which refugees flee their country and move seeking protection, many times lead to separation of family members. Sometimes family members flee together but separate during their journey. Other times flee their country in different times. In these cases refugees follow the family reunification procedure under the Dublin Regulation.
Offering free legal assistance to asylum seekers asking for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation is a main activity for AITIMA. Many asylum seekers who come to Greece have already a family member in another EU member state, and under Dublin regulation they are entitled to have their asylum case examined by this member-state. As the procedure is very demanding and time-lenghty, asylum seekers have to adapt to the frequently changing practices of the other states, which makes legal assistance necessary both for the documentation of the take-charge request and in the event of rejection.
Since 2011 our organization has worked on a very big number of family reunification cases. Only during the last two years we have assisted over than 600 families. Among the family members we have assisted there were 67 unaccompanied minors, one of which was only 4 years old.
Obviously, the whole procedure is very emotional for the asylum seekers. The impatience during the waiting period gives its place to joy as the day of the transfer to the other state and the reunification with their loved-ones comes closer. Each time that our beneficiaries come to thank us and say goodbye, we experience very moving moments in our office. These moments give us a lot of satisfaction as well as great motivation to continue our work.
In the context of this activity we co-operate with the Greek Dublin Unit, which is the competent authority, we contact other civil society organizations in Greece and other member-states, we daily inform our beneficiaries about the procedure as well as for their rights, we take care of the full documentation of their files and we try hard so that the of the procedure would come as soon as possible
The big importance of family reunification for asylum seekers is obvious. In order that their family reunification application would be accepted, it is very important for us to have close co-operation with other civil society organizations in Greece and other member-states which handle the cases of family members. Therefore we are looking forward to strengthening our co-operation with other organizations, also through joint projects. Given that the implementation of such projects needs financial resources we also appeal to funding institutions to assist us in this work.