1 August 2014

At the end of June our organization completed a four-year period of implementation of European Refugee Fund projects co-funded by the Greek Ministries of Health and Labor.

  • The projects were delivered mostly in Athens. There were also actions in Lesvos, Patras, Korinth and Igoumenitsa.

  • The projects mainly offered legal, social and material support to asylum seekers and refugees. There were also awareness raising activities.

  • The intense effort made by the projects’ staff as well as by volunteers resulted in supporting about 8.000 asylum seekers and refugees.

  • There was prioritization of the most vulnerable people, such as unaccompanied minors, families, torture victims, women and ill.

  • There were numerous visits in detention places in Attica and Korinth for the suppost of detained asylum seekers

  • There were a lot of appeals to the competent authorities and also letters to the Ombudsman aiming at the improvement of the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Greece.

 

Taking advantage of this precious experience we will continue our effort of supporting asylum seekers and refugees!

“I waited for ten years to get the final decision on my case”

     

When did you leave Afghanistan and why?

I left in 2002 because I was persecuted for political reasons.

When did you arrive in Greece and how did the Greek authorities treat you?

It was 2003 when I arrived in Lesvos island. Then I came to Peiraias by ship. When I went out of the port I was arrested by the Police and I was taken to a detention center in Drapetsona. I stayed there for 92 days. During this period I was confined in the detention center. I didn’t see the sunlight at all.

When did you apply for asylum?

When I was released I applied for asylum in Athens Alien Police. However I wasn’t given the special document for asylum seekers until 2006, so I didn’t have the right to work and medical care. After 2006 the situation improved.

What happened with your asylum application?

In 2007 I got a first-instance rejection, so I appealed. My appeal was examined in 2013 and I got refugee status. It took ten years for my case to be finally examined.

How did you feel during all these years you had been waiting for the decision?

I felt as if I was a prisoner in Greece. I didn’t know what my future would be.

How do you feel now that you got recognized as a refugee?

On one hand I feel satisfied that I was recognized. On the other hand, however, the state doesn’t offer any kind of support and this makes me feel insecure.

What is the situation in other European countries as you know?

Decisions on asylum applications are issued within one year and in the meantime asylum seekers are offered accommodation and an allowance for their expenses. Those who get refugee status are offered support from the state.

Do you feel integrated into the Greek society?

I have a good relationship with most people and actually many of my friends are Greek. I have also my own business. In this respect I feel integrated. There are times however that I feel that the Greek society is hostile.

Ten years after your arrival in Greece, there are still many Afghan refugees coming. Whatdo you do to help them?

As I speak Greek I help them with translation in many cases. I am also in contact with many Ngos that help refugees and I refer refugees to them.

During all these years I have had contact with several organizations such as Amnesty International, the Ecumenical Refugee Program and One Child One World.

In 2008 AITIMA was established and since I am an active member of the organization, I refer most refuges to AITIMA.

I also participated in the creation of the Greek Refugee Forum and I am a member of its Board.

What do you think about the support offered to refugees by civil society organizations?

The organizations try to help as much as possible. However there are systemic problems that organizations cannot solve as hard as they may try to. The long delay in the examination of asylum cases is a typical example.

What is your opinion about Greece?

Greece is a beautiful country with sea, islands, warm weather, so it is nice to live here.

However the economic situation is very bad and I don’t know what the future will be.

Do you miss your country?

I certainly miss my country. I have left behind a big family, my mother and my seven brothers and sisters. My father died and I couldn’t see him before he passed away nor could I be present at his funeral.

Do you think that you will manage to go back some time?

The situation is still very dangerous. I don’t know if there will be peace and democracy, so that I will be able to go back.

Our organization offers material support to refugees giving priority to the most vulnerable cases such as families, unaccompanied minors and ill people. This support includes food, clothing, blankets, school material, items of personal hygiene, glasses, hearing and orthopedic aids.

The program of material support is based on the support of companies, foundations and individual citizens.

    

     

30th of July 2013

Up to one year the Ministry of Public Order applies the practice of prolonged detention (up to 18 months) for irregular migrants and asylum seekers. This prolonged detention is often carried out in the facilities of Police Stations which are suitable only for a few days’ detention as well as in other detention facilities which do not comply with the standards of international law. In these facilities the detainees’ nutrition and medical care are often inadequate. We note that it is for these conditions of detention –and for shorter periods- that Greece has been convicted by many decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and has been severely reprimanded by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe.

As it is written in the relevant decisions of the police authorities, this prolonged detention aims at the removal (deportation) of the detainees. However the police authorities apply it even in the case of people who cannot be deported, either because this would violate the principle of non-refoulement (people who come from countries of origin where there are massive violations of human rights such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etc) or because the deportation is practically impossible. This happens although the law provides that in these cases the removal is postponed for 6 months and the detainees are released (article 24 of law 3907/2011).

Moreover the prolonged detention is routinely applied to detainees who ask for asylum, although the law provides that the detention of the asylum seekers should be only exceptional (article 13 of presidential decree 114/2010)

Thus this prolonged detention is carried out routinely in facilities which are inadequate for lengthy stay and as far as a big part of the detainees is concerned (those who are not deportable and the majority of asylum seekers) it is entirely illegitimate since it is contrary to the articles 24 of law 3907/2011 and 13 of presidential decree 114/2010.

From the above it is evident that this practice puts a big number of detainees in inhuman and degrading treatment. In the cases that the detainees are not deportable or the majority of asylum seekers this illegitimate and illegal detention gives the impression that it is some kind of punishment the authorities impose to the migrants who had the misfortune of coming to Greece.

This new situation of the prolonged detention of thousands of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in conditions that are often unacceptable, has led to extreme and very dangerous situations such as rebellions of the detainees and loss of human life. According to recent publications two detainees committed suicide (one in Grevena Police Station and another in Kozani) while a few days ago an Afghan detainee lost his life. According to the allegations of the Afghan Community the detainee in Korinth detention center didn’t get medical treatment on time and when he was taken to hospital his situation was not reversible.

We note that these inadequate conditions and the fact that this situation is dangerous have been pointed out from the Panhellenic Union of Policemen in a recent document (28 June 2013). The Union writes that the situation is very dangerous for the mental health of the detainees and that many detainees have tendency for suicide.

We would like to emphatically stress that according to international and national law:

  • Administrative detention should not be carried out in facilities which do not comply to international standards, since this violates international law.

  • Administrative detention should never be applied to people who are not deportable and should be applied to asylum seekers only exceptionally.

We call the competent authorities:

  • To review the illegal, inhuman and dangerous for the detainees life and well -being practice of prolonged detention in inadequate conditions

  • To ease the pressure from detention facilities by using the option of the postponement of removal for 6 months for those who are not deportable and by applying the detention of asylum seekers only exceptionally, as it is provided by the law.

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20th of June 2013

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day we would like to welcome some developments but also express our concern for certain issues related to refugee protection in Greece.

This year the World Refugee Day coincides with the opening of the New Asylum Service. We welcome this development with great satisfaction, since this has been a demand of the civil society for many years. This civil service brings hope that asylum seekers and refugees will be treated according to international law standards.

However we are deeply concerned by the fact that tens of thousands of pending asylum cases will remain in the responsibility of the Police and also by the fact that at present only one Regional Office of the New Asylum Service has opened in Athens while we don’t know when the Regional Offices at the border and the rest of Greece are going to open. These gaps make us very concerned about access to the asylum procedure in the rest of the country and in detention facilities.

We hope that the authorities will immediately take all the necessary steps in order to ensure access to the asylum procedure all over Greece and that they will generally ensure protection for all asylum seekers and refugees.

 

AITIMA

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL-GREEK SECTION

GREEK COUNCIL FOR REFUGEES

GREEK REFUGEE FORUM

KPSM-ECUMENICAL REFUGEE PROGRAM

NETWORK FOR SOCIAL SUPPORT OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES

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