Destination Unknown campaign member Terre des Hommes, together with 11 other organisations, have produced a roadmap providing an overview of the current situation on the Aegean islands in Greece, as well as on the Greek mainland. It sets out a series of recommendations for the Greek Government, European Union (EU) leaders and the United Nations for a successful handover of the refugee response in Greece to the Greek government, addressing persistent gaps in services, access to asylum and opportunities to integrate with Greek society.
More than 2,000 unaccompanied children are on the waiting list for safe shelters in Greece, according to this new report. The chronic shortage of accommodation for children is just one of the gaps in services worsening as the Greek Government prepares to take full control of the refugee response.
While some steps have been taken to move people to the mainland, the islands remain dangerously overcrowded, with many families sharing unheated tents as winter sets in. A dangerous shortage of medical and legal staff risks people’s health and has contributed to long delays in the asylum procedure. On the mainland, unaccompanied children are increasingly spending nights in police cells, in squats or on the streets because of a shortage of safe shelters.
To improve the situation, the report says a mechanism is needed to move people from the islands to accommodation on the mainland as soon as island reception centres reach their capacity. It also calls for all EU states to recognise their legal and moral obligation to consider asylum claims and to relocate the most vulnerable people to other countries in Europe.
It recommends that NGOs and the Greek Government invest in more programmes which build tolerance towards refugees and their integration within the communities most affected by their arrival. It also calls on UNCHR – the UN refugee agency – to be more vocal and take a stand against the policies and practices being implemented in Greece that reduce standards and minimise safeguards in the reception, asylum and returns procedures.
The report, Transitioning to a government-run refugee and migrant response in Greece: A joint NGO roadmap for more fair and humane policies, was jointly written with input from ActionAid, CARE, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Greek Helsinki Monitor, HIAS, International Rescue Committee (IRC), JRS, Oxfam, SolidarityNow, Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR) and Terre des Hommes.