Conditions in reception facilities

Greece

Country Report: Conditions in reception facilities Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Greek Council for Refugees Visit Website

The former Article 17(1) L 4540/2018, and now article 55(1) IPA provide that material reception conditions must provide asylum seekers with an adequate standard of living that guarantees their subsistence and promotes their physical and mental health, based on the respect of human dignity.

However, no mechanism for the monitoring and oversight of the level of the reception conditions, including the possibility to lodge a complaint regarding conditions in reception facilities, has been established by L 4540/2018 or the IPA, contrary to the obligations under Article 28 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive. Thus, no designated body is in place to oversee reception conditions, and no possibility to lodge a complaint against conditions in reception facilities exists in Greece.[1]

 

Conditions in temporary accommodation facilities on the mainland

 

A total of 30 camps/sites, most of which created in 2015-2016 as temporary accommodation facilities in order to address urgent reception needs on the mainland, following the imposition of border restrictions, are still in use. Furthermore, due to a significant increase of arrivals in 2019 and the ongoing lack of an EU responsibility sharing mechanism, the construction of new camps on the mainland has been announced for the purposes of facilitating island decongestion.[2] As stated by the Greek Minister of Citizen Protection in a letter addressed to the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights,[3] these will reportedly function as “controlled” accommodation centres, with “entry-exit control systems”, and as further reported, [4] will at least initially consist of large tents/rub halls. Though their modus operandi remains to be seen in practice. The announced closed centres on the islands, and the reported plans on the construction of new camps in the rest of Greece have met with significant opposition and critique by local communities and authorities, which have on several occasions stressed the negative impact of camps, as opposed to humane conditions in apartments and/or other spaces within the societal fabric, inter alia arguing in favour of the expansion of the ESTIA accommodation scheme.[5]  

On this note, it should be recalled that camps are not per se suitable for long-term accommodation as “camps can have significant negative impacts over the longer term for all concerned. Living in camps can engender dependency and weaken the ability of refugees to manage their own lives, which perpetuates the trauma of displacement and creates barriers to solutions, whatever form they take. In some contexts, camps may increase critical protection risks, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and child protection concerns.”[6]

Conditions vary across camp’s facilities on the mainland, as different types of accommodation and services are offered at each site. Compliance of reception conditions with the standards of the recast Reception Conditions Directive should be assessed against the situation prevailing in each camp.

Overall, though conditions in some mainland camps have improved since they were first established in 2015-2016, as stated by UNHCR in May 2019, “some continue to be below standards provided under EU and national law, especially for long-term living. The main gaps relate to the remote and isolated location, the type of shelter (most housing units are in ISO boxes), lack of security, and limitations in access to social services, especially for persons with specific needs and children. These living conditions coupled with a lack of clarity on future prospects over sustainable livelihood, have a detrimental impact on mental wellbeing”.[7]

Tents and rubhalls have also continued being used in some mainland camps in order to address the increased accommodation demand in 2019. On 13 September, a new camp was set up in Corinth, with the aim of functioning as a transit site for persons transferred from the islands, and has since been accommodating asylum seekers exclusively in tents/rubhalls. Conditions there have been reported as “squalid”, with “the marginality of the camp and the lack of any educational and recreational activities” further impacting on the mental health of asylum seekers, who have been reported as “feel[ing] abandoned, not well informed about legal procedures and their rights and opportunities and even in danger”.[8]

Furthermore, in a number of facilities on the mainland, conditions remain poor, as overcrowding, lack of or insufficient provision of services, violence and lack of security are consistently reported.[9]

On this note it should be recalled that, as illustrated by a 2018 report of the Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Rights with regard to conditions in the camps at the mainland, “the Commissioner’s attention was drawn to the fact that the living conditions prevailing in reception camps were not appropriate for long-term accommodation. Many of her interlocutors pointed out that most of these camps are made up of overcrowded containers and/or tents, do not cover the basic needs of their residents and are located in remote areas. In addition, a number of these sites reportedly operate without the required legal basis, a circumstance which raises serious issues regarding both their functioning and their oversight.”[10] These finding remain valid to a large extend during 2019.

More precisely, despite the fact that the capacity of mainland camps has been increased since 2018, overcrowding has remained an issue up to the end of 2019 and, in some cases, even worsened. As reported by UNHCR in October 2019, “new accommodation places must be provided to prevent pressure from the islands spilling over into mainland Greece, where most sites are operating at capacity.”[11] The lack of necessary places can be also shown by the number of referrals to accommodation submitted by DPAS to the RIS, in cases of homeless and/or applicants living in precarious conditions on the mainland, as opposed to the number of referred applicants that ended up being provided with accommodation in a camp. Namely, and as mentioned above, out of a total of 950 outgoing requests for the accommodation of asylum applicants throughout 2019, only 55 were ultimately placed in camps, following their referral to the RIS.[12]

Moreover, since the majority of the camps are located outside urban areas and away from services, including the Asylum Service and its RAO / AAU and access to public transport, they generate a feeling of exclusion and isolation among the residents. The remoteness of some sites from cities has also been noted as one of the difficulties the applicants face in order to access the labour market and as a notable obstacles to self-reliance, integration and co-existence.

In a number of cases, asylum seekers residing in the mainland camps continued to protest against substandard living conditions and their ongoing exclusion from the Greek society. Indicatively, in January 2019, residents of Diavata blocked the road to protest against living conditions.[13] In February 2019, refugees alongside members of the Movement United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat, gathered outside the Ministry of Migration Policy, protesting their exclusion from social services, such as healthcare and education.[14] In April 2019 some 70 asylum seekers, amongst whom families with children, protested living conditions in the camp of Skaramagkas.[15] In September 2019, asylum seekers residing in Malakasa camp in Attica closed the Athens-Lamia byway of the national highway, protesting against their lengthy residence and living conditions in the camp.[16] In October 2019, a sit in protest took place in the centre of Corinth, with refugees protesting against conditions in the Corinthos camp.[17]

Finally, it should be noted that as discussed in Types of Accommodation: Temporary Accommodation Centres, up until March 2020, the legal status of the vast majority of temporary camps, i.e. with the exception of Elaionas, Schisto and Diavata, remained unclear, as they operated without the requisite prior Joint Ministerial Decisions. Due to the lack of a legal basis for the establishment of the vast majority of the camps, no minimum standards and house rules were in force and there was no competent authority for the monitoring or evaluation of these facilities or any competent body in place for oversight. Moreover, most sites operated without official – under the Greek authorities – site management, which is substituted by site management support.[18] The impact of the Joint Ministerial Decision issued in March 2020, by which temporary accommodation facilities have been officially established, should be further assessed. 

 Measures taken with regards the COVID 19 pandemic

Accommodation facilities on the mainland in which COVID-19 cases were identified, were put in quarantine for 14 days and all residents, i.e. COVID-19 cases and residents which have not been identified as such, were not allowed to exit the facility. COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, followed by a 14-day quarantine in Ritsona (Evoia region) accommodation facility (camp), Malakasa (Attica region) accommodation facility (camp) and Koutsohero (Larisa region) accommodation facility (camp) in the beginning of April 2020  and in a hotel used for the accommodation of applicants in Kranidi (Peloponnese) in late April 2020.[19] Since then, the lockdown in Ritsona, Malakasa  and Koutsohero has been successively prolonged up until 7 June 2020, contrary to the lockdown on the general population which has been ended on 4 May 2020.[20] As reported, the “management of COVID-19 outbreaks in camps and facilities by the Greek authorities follows a different protocol compared to the one used in cases of outbreaks in other enclosed population groups. The Greek government protocol for managing an outbreak in a refugee camp, known as the ‘Agnodiki Plan’, details that the facility should be quarantined and all cases (confirmed and suspected) are isolated and treated in situ. In similar cases of outbreaks in enclosed population groups (such as nursing homes or private haemodialysis centres) vulnerable individuals were immediately moved from the site to safe accommodation, while all confirmed and suspected cases were isolated off-site in a separate facility”.[21]

 

Conditions on the Eastern Aegean islands

 

The situation on the islands has been widely documented and remains extremely alarming. Reception conditions prevailing in particular in the hotspot facilities may reach the level of inhuman or degrading treatment, while conditions of overcrowding leave an ever increasing number of asylum seekers without access to their rights.

The imposition of the “geographical restriction” on the islands since the launch of the EU-Turkey Statement (see Freedom of Movement) has led to a significant overcrowding of the reception facilities on the islands, which especially during the second half of 2019 reached explosive levels.

By the end of December 2019 more than 38,000 asylum seekers, amongst who 1,809 unaccompanied children, were living in facilities with a designated capacity of 6,178.[22] Conditions are largely described as woefully inadequate, severely overcrowded and dangerous, while a number of fatal events have been reported.   

In August 2019, a 15-year-old unaccompanied minor was killed and two others were injured in the safe zone of the RIC of Moria.[23] In September 2019, a five-year old boy from Afghanistan was run over by a truck, while playing inside a cardboard box outside the RIC of Lesvos.[24] In the same month, a woman was killed while a large fire broke out in Moria RIC, Levos. [25] In December 2019, a 27-year-old Afghan woman, mother of three was killed in a fire which started at the container where she lived with her husband and children, at the Kara Tepe accommodation site on Lesvos.[26] On March 2020, a 6 years old child was killed also by a fire broke out in Moria RIC, Lesvos.[27]

Following a number of recommendations to the Greek authorities regarding the living conditions on the islands issued in previous years,[28] similar recommendations have been addressed in 2019 inter alia by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,[29] UNHCR,[30] UNICEF,[31] and civil society organisations working in the field of human rights and humanitarian assistance.[32]

On 1 October 2019, UNHCR has called Greek authorities to act in order to “end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres”. As noted in the statement:

“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today calling on Greece to urgently move thousands of asylum-seekers out of dangerously overcrowded reception centres on the Greek Aegean islands. Sea arrivals in September, mostly of Afghan and Syrian families, increased to 10,258 – the highest monthly level since 2016 – worsening conditions on the islands which now host 30,000 asylum-seekers […] Keeping people on the islands in these inadequate and insecure conditions is inhumane and must come to an end”.[33]

On 31 October 2019, the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights, following her October 2019 visit to the RICs of Moria, Lesvos and Vathy, Samos, described the situation as “a struggle for survival”, stressing the “desperate lack of medical care and sanitation in the vastly overcrowded camps”. Inter alia in the Commissioner’s statement is noted that:

“The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months. Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living[…] The Commissioner is appalled by the unhygienic conditions in which migrants are kept in the islands. It is an explosive situation. There is a desperate lack of medical care and sanitation in the vastly overcrowded camps I have visited. People queue for hours to get food and to go to bathrooms, when these are available. […]This no longer has anything to do with the reception of asylum seekers. This has become a struggle for survival”. [34]

Following his visit to Lesvos in late November 2019, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, described the situation in Moria RIC as “extremely disturbing” and “horrifying”, commenting that Greece “needs to turn a page on how this [refugee] movement is handled”, and calling for solidarity at the EU level, in the form of “relocation places for vulnerable asylum seekers, particularly unaccompanied children”.[35]

On 7 February 2020, UNHCR called “for decisive action to end alarming conditions on Aegean islands”. As noted:

“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging Greece to intensify efforts to address alarming overcrowding and precarious conditions for asylum seekers and migrants staying on the five Greek Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros […] Thousands of women, men, and children who currently live in small tents are exposed to cold and rain with little or no access to heating, electricity or hot water. Hygiene and sanitation conditions are unsafe. Health problems are on the rise. Despite the dedication of medical professionals and volunteers, many cannot see a doctor as there are simply too few medical staff at the reception centres and local hospitals”.[36]

On 21 February 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees “called for urgent action to address the increasingly desperate situation of refugees and migrants in reception centres in the Aegean islands”. As noted: 

“Conditions in facilities on Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros are woefully inadequate, and have continued to deteriorate since Grandi last visited in November […] ‘Conditions on the islands are shocking and shameful,’ said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees […] Winter weather is now also adding to the suffering on the islands. Many people are without power, and even water, living amid filth and garbage. Health services are negligible. The risks faced by the most vulnerable individuals, pregnant women, new mothers, the elderly and children are among the worst seen in refugee crises around the world. Action is also needed to address the understandable concerns of the local communities hosting the refugees and migrants, to avoid social tensions rising still further. And of course, Greece should not be left alone […] responsibility-sharing measures such as the relocation of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people [are still needed]. Since the end of the emergency relocation scheme in September 2017, only a handful of European countries have pledged to take asylum seekers and refugees from Greece under relocation and expedited family reunion”.[37]

Moreover, a number of cases with regards the situation on the Greek Islands have been examined before international jurisdictional bodies and respectively temporary protection has been granted.

Inter alia, in May 2019, in response to a collective complaint brought before the Committee by ICJ, and ECRE, with the support of GCR, the European Committee on Social Rights exceptionally decided to indicate immediate measures to Greece to protect the rights of migrant children and to prevent serious and irreparable injury or harm to the children concerned, including damage to their physical and mental health, and to their safety, by inter alia removing them from detention and from Reception and Identification Centres (RICs) at the borders.[38]

In December 2019, in a case supported by GCR, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, granted interim measures to five unaccompanied teenagers, asylum seekers, who had been living for many months in the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) and in the "jungle" of Samos. The interim measures indicated to the Greek authorities their timely transfer to a centre for unaccompanied minors and to ensure that their reception conditions are compatible with Article 3 of the Convention (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) and the applicants’ particular status.[39]

Moreover, in three cases of vulnerable applicants living on the Greek Islands under a geographical restriction, supported by Equal Rights Beyond Borders, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Greek Authorities to provide reception conditions in line with Art. 3. These include the case of a pregnant woman and persons with medical conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.[40]  

However and despite the repeated calls by international and national human rights bodies to address the increasingly desperate situation of refugees and migrants in reception centres in the Aegean islands and the increasing number of Courts’ Decisions dealing with the situation on the Islands, the situation on the Greek Islands remained dangerous and persons there were exposed to significant protection risks during the whole 2019 and at the time of writing (April 2020).

As underlined by UNHCR in February 2020, “living conditions remained dangerous on the islands and thousands of women, men, and children who live in small tents are exposed to cold and rain with little or no access to heating, electricity or hot water”.[41]

In the beginning of April 2020 and despite for example the Decision of the European Committee on Social Rights to indicate immediate measures and inter alia to order the Greek Authorities, to ensure that migrant children in RICs are provided with immediate access to age-appropriate shelters,[42] some 39,500 refugees and asylum seekers resided on the Aegean islands. Children accounted for 33% of whom more than 6 out of 10 are younger than 12 years old. Approximately 14% of the children are unaccompanied or separated, mainly from Afghanistan.[43] As of 9 April 2020, the total number of applicants remaining on the Greek islands was 39,994 out of which 35,437 remaining in the RICs facilities with a total capacity of 6,095 places.[44]

Measures taken with regards the COVID 19 pandemic

On 22 March 2020 and within the framework of measure taken against the spread of COVID-19, with a Joint Ministerial Decision, a number of measures have been taken as of the islands’ RICs facilities. In accordance with said JMD, inter alia since 22 March 2020, there has been a lockdown in islands’ RICs facilities and annexes of these facilities. Residents of these facilities are restricted within the perimeter of the Centre and exit is not allowed with the exception of one representative of each family or group of residents who is allowed to exit the facility (between 7 am and 7 pm) in order to visit the closest urban centre to cover basic needs. No more than 100 persons per hour could exit the facility for this purpose if public transport was not available.[45] For the same period, all visits or activities inside the RICs not related to the accommodation, food provision and medical care of RIC residents, are only permitted following authorization of the RIC management. For the provision of legal services, access shall also be granted following authorization from the RIC management and in a specific area, where this is feasible. Special health units were also established in order to treat any case of COVID-19 and to conduct health screening for all RIC staff.[46]

Civil society organizations have urged the Greek Authorities to urgently evacuate the squalid Greek camps on the islands. As they note, “camps, especially on the Aegean islands, suffer from severe overcrowding and lack of adequate sanitary facilities, making it impossible to ensure social distancing and hygiene conditions for both residents and employees. This poses a major threat to public health for both asylum seekers and for society as large”.[47]  As reported “Conditions in the island RICs are overcrowded and unhygienic, putting residents at risk from communicable disease and making it all but impossible to follow public health guidance around prevention of COVID-19. The RICs are currently several times over capacity, and many residents are living in informal areas around the official camps. The provision of water and sanitation services are not sufficient for the population, thereby presenting significant risks to health and safety. In some parts of the settlement in Moria, there are 167 people per toilet and more than 242 per shower. Around 5,000 people live in an informal extension to the Moria camp known as the ‘Olive Grove’ who have no access to water, showers or toilets. 17 Residents of island RICs must frequently queue in close proximity to each other for food, medical assistance, and washing. In such conditions, regular handwashing and social distancing are impossible”.[48]

A plan to transfer vulnerable asylum seekers out of the RICs was also announced in March 2020. In early April 2020, UNHCR launched an open call for renting hotel rooms on the Greek Islands and boats for the accommodation of vulnerable applicants residing in the Aegean RICs facilities, with a view to face a potential spread of COVID-19 in the reception facilities and its impact on local communities.[49] Furthermore, a number of 1,138 applicants have been transferred from the islands to the mainland during April 2020.[50] However, islands RICs remain significant overcrowded. 34,544 persons remained in islands’ RICs facilities with a nominal capacity of 6,095 places as of 30 April 2020.[51]

The restriction of the movement of persons residing on the island RICs, out of these facilities has been successively prolonged up to 7 June 2020,[52] contrary to the lockdown on the general population which has been ended on 4 May 2020.

Additionally, as mentioned in Reception and identification procedures on the islands, newly arrived persons on the Greek Islands, since late March- April 2020 are subject in a 14 days quarantine outside of the RIC facilities, prior to their transfer to RICs, which caused challenges due to limited suitable facilities for isolating new arrivals on the islands. 

By late May 2020, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among persons residing in RICs facilities on the Greek islands. Four cases have been identified among new arrivals to Lesvos. There have been 9 reported local Greek population cases across all the Aegean islands where RICs are located. [53]

 

Destitution

 

Destitution and homelessness still remain matters of concern, despite the efforts made in order to increase reception capacity in Greece (see Types of Accommodation).

As stated by UNHCR in February 2020, “Housing options and services to cater for the present population are scarce countrywide”.[54]

The number of applicants who face homelessness is not known, as no official data are published on the matter. However, the lack of available accommodation can be illustrated by the low rate of placement in accommodation facilities. For example, during 2019, out of the 950 requests from homeless or under precarious living conditions asylum seekers in the mainland sent from the Directorate for the Protection of Asylum Seekers (DPAS) to the Reception and Identification Service (RIS), for place in an open accommodation facility in the mainland, only 55 applicants were finally offered an accommodation place in a facility (5.7%).  Respectively, between January 2017 and December 2019, GCR received more than 650 requests from homeless families and single men, all of whom applicants of international protection, to assist them in finding accommodation, through the provided process of referring them to the competent authorities, yet, as far as GCR is aware, to no avail.[55]  

Due to the ongoing lack of sufficient accommodation capacity on the mainland in 2019, newly arrived persons, including vulnerable groups, have continued resorting to makeshift accommodation or remained homeless in urban areas of (primarily) Athens and Thessaloniki.[56] This has further exacerbated in 2019, following the evictions of a number of squats in Athens, which had previously been used by necessity by asylum seekers and refugees as a means to find accommodation.[57] For example, in November and December 2019, GCR was contacted by 12 families, applicants for international protection, who had been evicted from a squat in central Athens and all of whom had remained homeless, as they had not been provided with any alternatives for their accommodation. Amongst those exposed to homelessness in Athens, GCR has further identified a single mother with her months old infant child, a single man living in a park and an 18 year old girl from Somalia.[58]

The IPA, in force since January 2020, imposed a 6 months restriction to asylum seekers for accessing the labour market (see Access to Labour). Asylum seekers are thus exposed to a situation of potential destitution and homelessness. This should be taken into consideration, as during this period asylum seekers are exclusively dependent on benefits and scarce reception options.

Moreover, as mentioned above, living conditions on the Eastern Aegean islands do not meet the minimum standards of the recast Reception Conditions Directive and thus asylum seekers living there are exposed to deplorable conditions, frequently left homeless and without access to decent housing or basic services.[59] Overcrowding also occurs in mainland sites. Given the poor conditions and the protection risks present in some of these sites, homelessness and destitution cannot be excluded by the sole fact that an applicant remains in one of these sites. 

Persons identified as vulnerable also face destitution risks. As of 31 December 2019, there were 5,301 unaccompanied and separated children in Greece, but only 1,286 places in long-term dedicated accommodation facilities, and 748 places in temporary accommodation.[60] Given the high occupancy rate of the UNHCR scheme places, which was reported at 98% as of 31 December 2019,[61] and the length of the asylum procedure, the possibility for newly arriving vulnerable families and persons to benefit from accommodation under that scheme should be further assessed. In urban areas, homeless SGBV survivors have increased in the last six months, while one out of three survivors report to have been raped while homeless. NGO Diotima reports that out of the 134 SGBV survivors who had benefited by its services between June and November 2019, 73% were homeless. 37% of homeless women reported that they have been subject to one or more SGBV incidents, directly related with their homelessness.[62]  

In any event, in order for the Greek authorities’ compliance with their obligations relating to reception conditions to be assessed, the number of available reception places that are in line with the standards of the recast Reception Conditions Directive should be assessed against the total number of persons with pending asylum applications, i.e. 87,461 applications pending at first instance and about 14,547 appeals pending before different Appeals Committees,[63] at the end of 2019.

 

Racist violence

 

An alarming expansion of racism, continuation of the culture of violence at neighborhoods[64] and incidents of racist violence and tension has continued being recorded throughout 2019. Both on the islands and the mainland refugees and asylum seekers have remained at a heightened risk of racist violence.[65] These have inter alia concerned hate speech on public transportation;[66] racist attacks against migrants and asylum seekers that have affected even minors,[67] and attacks on humanitarian workers.

The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) coordinated by UNHCR and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights, has witnessed an increasing number of xenophobic and racist incidents in 2019 and early 2020, targeting the transfers of asylum-seekers to reception facilities on the mainland, newly arrived refugees and migrants, as well as staff of international organizations and NGOs, members of civil society and journalists, due to their association with the defence of the rights of refugees, on the Islands and in Evros. As noted by the RVRN, in March 2020, “such targeted attacks have escalated with physical assaults on staff providing services to refugees, arsons in facilities used for shelter and for services to refugees, NGO vehicles and blocking of the transfer or the disembarkation of new arrivals with the parallel use of racist comments”.[68]   



[1] See for example: FRA, Current migration situation in the EU: Oversight of reception facilities, September 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2xObtYA, p. 2.

[2] Kathimerini, “10 new accommodation site to be opened”, 13 January 2020, available at:  https://bit.ly/2v0TC4D.

[3] See “reply of Michalis Chrysochoidis, Minister of Citizen Protection of Greece”, 29 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3aKCwsm.

[4] For instance see: kathimerini, ’10 new accommodation sites are opening’ [‘Ανοίγουν δέκα νέες δομές φιλοξενίας’], 13 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2NZUWve.

[5] For instance, see tvxs, “No end in sight for the government during marathon meeting with the local administration”, 10 January 2020, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/3b3lXb3;  efsyn, “Strong Critique during the Government’s consultation on the refugee issue”, 10 January 1010, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2vJ4g0s  Cretalive, ‘To welcome refugees, yes – to close them up in centres, no’, 19 December 2019,  available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2OkNx9Y

[6] UNHCR, Policy on Alternatives to Camps, 22 July 2014, UNHCR/HCP/2014/9, available at: http://bit.ly/1DAf2kz, p. 4.

[7] Recommendations by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) concerning the execution of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the cases of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece (Application No. 30696/09, Grand Chamber judgment of 21 January 2011) and of Rahimi v. Greece (Application No. 8687/08, Chamber judgment of 05 April 2011), available at: https://bit.ly/2RuveBd, p.4.

[8] Refugee Support Aegean, “Neither here, nor there”: Refugees transferred to Corinth transit camp are left in precarious limbo, 1 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2U0SeJO.

[9] Eric Reidy, ‘Two different hells’: Mainland offers little respite for refugees in Greece, The New

Humanitarian, 5 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/37y8C8D. Also see kathimerini, ‘Struggle for survival at Skaramangas refugee camp’, 16 April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2GtbN5K.

[10]  Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Dunja Mijatović following her visit to Greece from 25 to 29 June 2018, CommDH(2018)24, 6 November 2018, 5.

[11] UNHCR, “Greece must act to end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres, EU support crucial”, 1 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2RPpBxJ.

[12] Information provided by the Directorate for the Protection of Asylum Seekers (DPAS) on 24 January 2020. [13]  CNN Greece, ‘Ένταση στη διάρκεια διαμαρτυρίας προσφύγων στα Διαβατά’, 7 January 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/2SA1QHn.

[14] iefimerida, ‘Διαμαρτυρία προσφύγων έξω από το υπουργείο Μεταναστευτικής Πολιτικής’, 28 February 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/317Ym4N.

[15] Newpost, ‘Διαμαρτυρία προσφύγων και μεταναστών στον Σκαραμαγκά (φωτό)’, 1 April 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/2O481E5.

[16]  Ta Nea, ‘Μαλακάσα: Διαμαρτυρία προσφύγων για τις συνθήκες διαβίωσης’, 4 September 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/36wSDGG.

[17]  Avgi, ‘Καθιστική διαμαρτυρία για τις άθλιες συνθήκες διαβίωσης από πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες στην Κόρινθο (Video)’, 4 October 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/36v2o8f.

[18] Refugee Support Aegean, ‘Reception Crisis in Greece: The malignancy of Attica’s refugee camps’, 13   August 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2sE5sgL.

[19]  See inter alia Papadatos-Anagnostopoulos D, Kourahanis N, Makridou E, Exclusion of refugees by the national strategy in response to COVID-19, Κέντρο Έρευνας και Εκπαίδευσης στη Δημόσια Υγεία, την Πολιτική Υγείας και την Πρωτοβάθμια Φροντίδα Υγείας, 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3cLvcwY, 20.

[20] Joint Ministerial Decision No Δ1α/Γ.Π.οικ.26792/24.4.2020; Joint Ministerial Decision Δ1α/Γ.Π.οικ.28597/6.5.2020; Joint Ministerial Decision No Δ1α/Γ.Π.οικ. 31690/21.5.2020.

[21] Lancet-Migration, Carruthers E., Veizis A., Kondilis E., Orcutt M., Situational brief: Asylum seekers, refugees & migrants in Greece during covid-19, 27 May 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2zRUFGS.

[22]  General Secretariat for Information and Communication, National Situational Picture Regarding the Islands at Eastern Aegean Sea (31/12/2019), 2 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/36ygYM6 and National Centre for Social Solidarity, Situation Update: Unaccompanied Children (UAC) in Greece (31 December 2019), 13 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2tXy3Sz.

[23] UNHCR, ‘UNHCR shocked at death of Afghan boy on Lesvos; urges transfer of unaccompanied children to safe shelters’, 25 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2S18OIp.

[24] In.gr, ‘Inconceivable tragedy: truck run over a 5 year old at Moria’, 24 September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2vbwlNq.

[25]   Iefimerida.gr, Μόρια: Μία γυναίκα νεκρή από την εξέγερση μεταναστών, 29 September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2R9wGse.  

[26] UNHCR, UNHCR saddened by death of Afghan mother of three on Lesvos island, 5 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2XblFum.

[27] Efsyn.gr, Ένα νεκρό παιδί από τη φωτιά στη Μόρια, 16 March 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3bPkzsk.

[28] AIDA, Country Report Greece, 2017 Update, March 2018, 131-133.

[29] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, “Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities”, 31 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/36V6oPD.

[30]UNHCR, ‘Greece must act to end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres, EU support crucial’, 1 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2RZN67D

[31] UNICEF, ‘More than 1,100 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children in Greece need urgent shelter and protection,  29 August 2019, available at: https://uni.cf/2OmQ6bK.

[32] Inter alia, see Oxfam & GCR, Lesvos Bulletin:Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugee’s update on the EU ‘hotspot’ of Moria, 19 December 2019, available at:  https://bit.ly/2ttu1kH; ActionAid et. al, ‘Greek, EU authorities urged to break ‘vicious cycle’ of overcrowded asylum-seeker hotspots’, 18 September 2019,  available at: https://bit.ly/2RWOPKU.

[33] UNHCR, ‘Greece must act to end dangerous overcrowding in island reception centres, EU support crucial’, 1 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2RZN67D

[34]Council of Europe, Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities, 31 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/36SmSb2.

[35] UNHCR, ‘Head of UNHCR calls for urgent response to overcrowding in Greek island reception centres,  Europe to share responsibility’, 28 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2RsE2Ym and UNHCR, ‘UNHCR chief urges action over conditions for asylum-seekers on Greek island’, 28 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/38M2vxR.

[36] UNHCR, UNHCR calls for decisive action to end alarming conditions on Aegean islands, 7 February 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dUBDit.

[37] UNHCR, Act now to alleviate suffering at reception centres on Greek islands, 21 February 2020, https://bit.ly/3dUhV6u.

[38]  European Committee of Social Rights, Decision on admissibility and on immediate measures in the case  International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) v. Greece, Complaint No. 173/2018, 23 May 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39clrGj.

[39] GCR, The European Court of Human Rights provides interim measures to unaccompanied minors living in  the RIC and the "jungle" of Samos island, 30 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2GYQY2p.

[40]Equal Rights Beyond Border, Application No. 15192/20 – M.A. v. Greece, 26/03/2020, Vial evacuation COVID-19; Application No. 15782/20 – M.A. v. Greece, 07/04/2020 Vial evacuation COVID-19; Application No. 59841/19 – A.R. v. Greece, 21/11/2019 SGBV-evacuation Kos – Lifting of Geographical Restriction, available at: https://www.equal-rights.org/greece.

[41] UNHCR, Factsheet, Greece: 1-29 February 2020, available at: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/74972.

[42] European Committee of Social Rights, Idem.

[43]  UNHCR, Aegean Islands Weekly Snapshot, 30 March – 05 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3a7EHVc.

[44]  General Secretariat for Information and Communication, National Situational Picture Regarding the Islands at Eastern Aegean Sea (9/4/2020), 10 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2K1KscI.

[45]  JMD No. Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 20030, Gov. Gazette B’ 985/22-3-2020.

[46]  UNHCR, Help-Greece, About Coronavirus, available at:  https://help.unhcr.org/greece/coronavirus/#Restrictions

[47]  Protect the most vulnerable to ensure protection for everyone!-Open letter of 121 organizations, 25 March 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ejX5xl.

[48] Lancet-Migration, Carruthers E., Veizis A., Kondilis E., Orcutt M., SITUATIONAL BRIEF: ASYLUM SEEKERS, REFUGEES & MIGRANTS IN GREECE DURING COVID-19, 27 May 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2zRUFGS.

[49] Tonisi.gr, Κίνηση προστασίας ντόπιων και προσφύγων από την Ύπατη Αρμοστεία του ΟΗΕ, 10 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3cbHLRG

[50] Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Press Release, 7 May 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/36IX5DG.

[51] General Secretariat for Information and Communication, National Situational Picture Regarding the Islands at Eastern Aegean Sea, 30 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3esys0X.

[52] JMD No Δ1Α/ΓΠ.οικ.29105/2020, Gov. Gazette B’ 1771/9-5-2020; JMD No Δ1α/ΓΠ.οικ. 20030/2020, Gov. Gazette B’ 985/22-3-2020.  

[53] Lancet-Migration, ibid. 

[54] UNHCR, Factsheet, Greece: 1-29 February 2020.

[55]GCR, Christmas, the homeless journey continues: GCR Press Release, 23 December 2019, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2Rm92cJ.

[56] For instance, see AIDA, ‘Greece: Destitution and makeshift accommodation continues in Thessaloniki’, 6 February 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2IttbLm; Greek Forum of Refugees, ‘The “invisible” people of Athens and the journey of an unaccompanied minor that remains homeless’, 16 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/36POjT2; Refugee Support Aegean, Reception crisis in Northern Greece: Three years of emergency solutions, 22 May 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2GQrNyD.

[57] Inter alia, see Amnesty International, ‘Statement of Amnesty International on the eviction of refugees from the squats in Exarcheia’, 29 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/31q2AVo;  iefimerida, ‘Refugees camped in Syntagma – Homeless after the police operation in Exarxheia’, 19 April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Sa8d5G;

[58] GCR, ‘Christmas, the homeless journey continues’, 23 December 2019, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2vOOOQt.

[59] For instance, see ethnos, ‘Samos: Hundreds of homeless migrants sleep in the streets’, 17 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2OsBw2m.

[60] EKKA, Situation Update: Unaccompanied Children (UAC) in Greece, 31 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/36Mp0RT.

[61]  UNHCR, ESTIA Accommodation Capacity Weekly Update (as of 31 December 2019), 3 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2FoLop2.  

[62] UNHCR, Factsheet, Greece: 1-31 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2V6beGR; Diotima, Άστεγες πολλές προσφύγισσες – θύματα έμφυλης βίας, 16 January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2y9PmBI.

[63] Information provided by the Asylum Service, 17 February 2020, Information provided by the Appeals Authority, 29 April 2020.

[64]  News.gr, ‘Διευρύνεται η βάση του ρατσισμού και η κουλτούρα της βίας στις γειτονιές’, 14 March 2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/2usL2rQ.

[65] UNHCR, ‘Refugees in Greece remain exposed to racist violence’, 21 March 2019, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2UnjN0f.

[66]  Ta nea, ‘Racist attack of bus ticket controller against refugee: “I will put you in the garbage”, 14 January

2020, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2RXv6dQ.

[67] CNN Greece, ‘Attack against refugees at Vilia: they even hit a child’, 18 March 2019, available (in Greek) at: https://bit.ly/2UooOW9.

[68] RVRN, ‘Racist Violence Recording Network expresses concern over xenophobic reactions against refugees’, 11 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3963YPt.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation