Greece: Reports on the islands by the Greek Council for Refugees

The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) has published two reports of recent field missions to the islands of Lesvos, Rhodes and Kastelorizo.

The report on Lesvos, issued following a visit conducted in November 2015, details the reception conditions prevailing in Moria, which comprises the “hotspot” (set up in the former Moria detention centre) and the First Reception Centre established last year. GCR also analyses the registration procedure applicable on the island, which distinguishes Syrian women and children from other categories of arrivals. The former are registered in the Kara Tepe camp, while Syrian men and all other nationalities undergo registration in Moria. There, Syrian nationals benefit from a strongly prioritised registration process, likely to be completed within one day, whereas other nationalities often wait for periods up to 10 days to receive a document.

The report also describes the relocation procedure on Lesvos. Persons potentially eligible for relocation are identified during the registration procedure by Frontex, EASO or UNHCR, who provide initial information on the process. Further information is provided by the Regional Asylum Office, which however requires more adequate staffing; at the time of GCR’s visit, only one interpreter for Arabic was available at the Asylum Office. Once the asylum application is registered, the person’s file is transmitted to the Dublin Unit of the Asylum Service in Athens, which makes a Dublin outgoing request to the Member State of relocation. If relocation is accepted, the applicant receives an inadmissibility decision on their asylum application in Greece after having arrived in Athens to await their relocation.

However, as regards asylum seekers falling outside the scope of the Relocation Decisions, legal aid on the asylum procedure was not provided on Lesvos at the time of GCR’s visit, with the exception of a project managed by NGO Metadrasi for certain actions concerning unaccompanied minors. An absence of legal aid is equally reported on Rhodes, where a Regional Asylum Office is also established.

State-provided reception conditions are insufficient on Rhodes and Kastelorizo, which recorded over 6,000 and 4,300 arrivals respectively last year. In particular, GCR reports a lack of identification mechanisms for vulnerable persons due to insufficient screening processes and lack of appropriate training of officials dealing with the newly arrived.

GCR has also conducted monitoring missions on the islands of Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos.


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Photo: International Rescue Committee Transit Centre, Eftalou. Credit: Πολιτικά.

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