Since July 2023, the Aegean islands have experienced a sharp increase in arriving asylum seekers crossing byboat from Türkiye. Between 1 July – 31 August 2023, over 4,000 people were brought to the Closed ControlledAccess Centres (CCACs) on Samos and Lesvos and placed into unlawful detention while awaiting registration oftheir asylum requests.

Read the Joint Statement here

Survivors demand an effective investigation

Athens, September 14, 2023: Forty survivors of the deadly shipwreck in Pylos filed yesterday a criminal complaint against all responsible parties before the Naval Court of Piraeus.


The survivors, represented by the Network for Refugee and Migrant Rights, the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), the Initiative of Lawyers and Jurists for the shipwreck of Pylos, and Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), denounce a series of violations of the Greek authorities' obligations to protect the lives of those on board and demand an effective investigation into the circumstances of the deadliest shipwreck to occur in the Mediterranean in recent years.


The survivors submit that the Greek authorities failed to immediately intervene and to organise a timely and adequate rescue operation despite their duty to rescue the passengers on board under International Law of the Sea, Human Rights Law, EU and domestic Law. This was especially due to the fact that they had been informed from the outset and subsequently ascertained at close distance the imminent threat to life facing passengers on board the manifestly unseaworthy and overcrowded trawler. The complainants allege that the Greek authorities not only refrained from taking the necessary rescue measures as soon as the vessel was sighted, but instead proceeded to an effort to tow the vessel that resulted in its capsizing and sinking.


The complainants demand an immediate, thorough and reliable investigation and the attribution of criminal responsibility for the acts and omissions of the Greek authorities. We recall that a number of international organisations and institutions, including the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, have already urged Greece to carry out a full and effective investigation into the circumstances of the shipwreck.


The deadliest shipwreck of the Mediterranean has sparked global interest, a declared commitment of the Greek authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, and the launch of a preliminary examination by the Naval Court of Piraeus. Nevertheless, three months after the tragic event, none of the survivors of the shipwreck, witnesses of the events of 13/14 June 2023, has – to our knowledge – been called to testify on the circumstances of the shipwreck under that investigation or to provide any evidence.



Network for Refugee and Migrant Rights

Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)

Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)

Initiative of Lawyers and Jurists for the shipwreck of Pylos

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)

After Europe’s biggest and most notorious refugee camp burned down in September 2020, promises were made never to let Moria happen again. Authorities guaranteed that state-of-the-art facilities in line with fundamental rights and European standards would be created - improving safety and security, protection for vulnerable people, access to healthcare and fast and effective asylum procedures.[1]


Exactly three years after the Moria fire, organisations warn that the EU-funded Closed Controlled Access Centre Mavrovouni (C.A.C.C.) on Lesvos, replacing Moria, has failed to live up to its promise. With a sharp increase in arrivals over the past few months, the situation at the C.C.A.C. has once again become unsustainable and endangers the health and well-being of people on the move.



After stating that the lack of access to health care in Moria was unacceptable in 2020 - a severe lack of medical staff, psychologists, psychiatrists and interpreters at the Mavrovouni C.C.A.C. persists.[2] Organisations report an increase in medical emergencies, suicidality, substance dependency and gender-based violence inside the C.C.A.C.


The mandated public provider of healthcare inside the Mavrovouni C.C.A.C., the Greek National Public Health Organisation (EODY), is understaffed, with only one permanent doctor for a population of over 3,000 people. The lack of capacity is exacerbated by a considerable number of (medical) organisations ceasing operations or being forced to leave Mavrovouni.


Despite improvements made, the capacity to provide dignified up-to-standard reception conditions is lacking at the Mavrovouni C.C.A.C. People are put in rub halls with no privacy or partitions and forced to share rooms and containers with complete strangers, often without a mattress.


NGOs stress that a backlog and lack of capacity for registering people has delayed access to healthcare, vulnerability assessments and access to food or water and put people, already in a precarious situation, under additional pressure. Insecurity, delayed procedures and lack of efficient services at the C.C.A.C. often lead to tension and stress disorders.


The 2020 objective to create safe zones for vulnerable groups has not materialised. The “safe area” and shelters at the Mavrovouni C.C.A.C. on Lesvos cannot be considered safe due to a lack of appropriate protection measures that guarantee safety and security.


Vulnerable people, including unaccompanied children, single mothers and survivors of GBV are sheltered in the former “quarantine area” for long stretches of time and are not separated according to gender or vulnerability. Adults have unrestricted access and no permanent security is present in the area, increasing the risk of abuse.


Despite promises of fast and effective asylum procedures, several barriers to effective access to the right to seek asylum, e.g. illegal collective returns, bureaucratic obstacles, lack of interpreters, systematic use of accelerated and border procedures, the fallacious use of the safe country concept and lack of recognition of procedural guarantees, have been consistently experienced by people on the move on Lesvos.


Organisations report regular and prolonged delays in the registration of asylum applications on the island. These delays had led to an increase in the number of people under ‘restriction of freedom’ for up to 25 days in the C.C.A.C., amounting to de facto detention.[3]




Three years down the road the reception centres on the Greek islands were meant to be exemplary blueprints for living conditions in line with fundamental rights and European standards and swift procedures at all European borders. Instead, if no action is taken, Mavrovouni provides a stark warning of what is to come.


Supported by:


  1. Lighthouse Relief
  2. Yoga and Sport with Refugees
  3. Refugee Legal Support
  4. Yoga and sport with refugees
  5. I Have Rights
  6. Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid
  7. Better Days Greece
  8. Choose Love
  9. Equal Legal Aid
  10. Mobile Info Team
  11. Thalassa of Solidarity (Θάλασσα Αλληλεγγύης)
  12. #LeaveNoOneBehind
  13. Network for Children's Rights
  14. Samos Volunteers
  15. Europe Cares e.V. / Paréa Lesvos
  16. Diotima Centre for Gender Rights and Equality
  17. Ariadni Lesvos



[1] EU Commission, ‘Memorandum of Understanding on a Joint Pilot for the establishment and operation of a new Multi-Purpose Reception and Identification Centre on Lesvos’ (2020) 8657 final; European Commission ‘Migration: A European Taskforce to Resolve Emergency Situation on Lesvos’ (23 September 2020).

[2] RSA and PRO ASYL 'What's Happening Today in the Refugee Structures on the Aegean Islands’ (May 2023); Intersos ‘Trapped between Scylla and Charybdis’ (August 2023).

[3] Article 40(a) of Law 4939/2022, Government Gazette A’ 111/10.06.2022 (Asylum Code).

Ο Διευθυντής του ΕΣΠ, κος Λευτέρης Παπαγιαννάκης μιλώντας στο Euronews στο πλαίσιο εκτενούς ρεπορτάζ του ευρωπαϊκού ενημερωτικού δικτύου για τα πρόσφατα γεγονότα με την παράνομη σύλληψη και κράτηση μεταναστών από πολίτες στον Έβρο, αναφέρθηκε στην συνεχιζόμενη στοχοποίηση που δέχονται οι μετανάστες και οι πρόσφυγες στην Ελλάδα και εξέφρασε την ανησυχία του ότι οι πρακτικές αυτές γίνονται πολλές φορές με την ανοχή της αστυνομίας και του στρατού. 
New Policy Brief published by the The Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration (CERC Migration)
Authors: Danai Aggeli, Vassilis Papadopoulos
Each year, hundreds of migrants die or go missing in their effort to cross the Mediterranean Sea in unseaworthy vessels. The duty to save lives is well established in international law. However, strained coastal states are often reluctant to save unwanted migrant vessels and assume the responsibility for the survivors. The latest shipwreck in Greece, epitomizes the consequences of this inaction. There is an urgent need to develop a common search and rescue policy scheme to prevent further tragedies and ultimately to manage borders in accordance with international law standards.
Read the full Policy Brief here
Pursuant to the call for inputs issued by the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), the present submission attempts to address the questions raised by the CED and the WGEID, within the scope of GCR’s statute and based on GCR’s experience in Greece.
Read GCR's contribution here
Implementation period: 01/04/2022 - 30/06/2023
Funded by: Save the Children International
Place of implementation: Athens

The project aims to support the integration of Ukrainian refugees who left their country with the start of the war, in February 2022. In this context, Ukrainian beneficiaries receive the following services:

a) Provision of educational activities tailored to meet the needs of children under 6 years of age,

b) Provision of Greek language lessons to children over 6 years old and teenagers,

c) Help with school enrollment,

d) Provision of psychological support to  children and their families, and

e) Provision of job counseling and job placement services.


Διαβάστε τις παρατηρήσεις του ΕΣΠ για την υπόθεση MSS ενώπιον της Επιτροπής Υπουργών του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης εδώ.

Περίοδος Υλοποίησης: 01/01/2022 - 31/12/22 (με επέκταση 30/6/2023)
Xρηματοδότηση: Γενική Διεύθυνση Μετανάστευσης και Εσωτερικών υποθέσεων της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής (DG HOME) .
Εταίροι Υλοποίησης: Διεθνής Οργανισμός Μετανάστευσης, Δήμος Αθηναίων (μέσω του Οργανισμού Διαχείρισης και Ανάπτυξης της Αθήνας - ADDMA), Αρσις, Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB), Danish Refugee Council Greece (DRC Greece) Ελληνικό Συμβούλιο για τους Πρόσφυγες (GCR), METAdrasi, Solidarity Now και Το Χαμόγελο του Παιδιού
Σκοπός του προγράμματος:

Υποστήριξη  των ελληνικών  αρχών  στη βελτίωση της ποιότητας της ανθρωπιστικής ανταπόκρισης και των υπηρεσιών προστασίας στους φιλοξενούμενους πολίτες τρίτων χωρών σε δομές του ελληνικού συστήματος υποδοχής. Ιδιαίτερη στόχευση γίνεται σε ωφελούμενους με ευαλωτότητες.  

Το ΕΣΠ σε  συνεργασία με τον ΔΟΜ παρέχει υπηρεσίες  νομικής βοήθειας και εκπροσώπησης, συμβάλλοντας έτσι στον γενικό στόχο της συμβολής στη βελτίωση της ποιότητας της ανθρωπιστικής ανταπόκρισης και της βοήθειας προστασίας των μεταναστών που φιλοξενούνται στο ελληνικό σύστημα υποδοχής. Το έργο από 01/01/2022 έως 31/12/2022αφορούσε  στις ακόλουθες τοποθεσίες:  

- Νότια Ελλάδα (5): Ελαιώνας, Σχιστό, Κόρινθος, Μαλακάσα/Νέα Μαλακάσα (μετά την επαναλειτουργία του χώρου), Οινόφυτα. 

- Πελοπόννησος (2): Ανδραβίδα, Πύργος έως τις 31 Ιανουαρίου 2022) 

- Βόρεια Ελλάδα (7): Βέροια, Αλεξάνδρεια, Λαγκαδίκια, Διαβατά, Βαγιοχώρι, Σύνταγμα-Κλειδί, Πολύκαστρο. 

Από την 01/01/23-30/06/2023 οι νομικές παρεμβάσεις του ΕΣΠ καλύπτουν το σύνολο 22 Δομών φιλοξενίας στην ενδοχώρα. 

Δραστηριότητες: Αφορούσαν  υποθέσεις που σχετίζονται με το άσυλο (π.χ. προσφυγές κατά αποφάσεων 1ου βαθμού που απορρίπτουν αίτηση ασύλου για περιπτώσεις υψηλού κινδύνου σε περίπτωση που το Μητρώο της Υπηρεσίας Ασύλου δεν αποδέχθηκε την υπόθεση, - 1ες και 2ες μεταγενέστερες αιτήσεις ασύλου για περιπτώσεις υψηλού κινδύνου κ.λπ.), υποθέσεις διοικητικού δικαίου (αίτηση ακύρωσης κατά αποφάσεων 2ου βαθμού που απορρίπτουν αιτήσεις ασύλου για περιπτώσεις υψηλού κινδύνου, προσφυγή κατά απόφασης εκτίμησης ηλικίας), υποθέσεις που σχετίζονται με την αστική και οικογενειακή κατάσταση (ανάθεση επιμέλειας για ΣΔΑΔ, υποθέσεις μονογονεϊκής οικογένειας και άλλα θέματα που σχετίζονται με την προστασία των παιδιών, οικογενειακά δικαστήρια, διαδικασίες εθνικού μητρώου, διόρθωση πιστοποιητικών γέννησης, αιτήσεις δικαστικής επιτροπείας για άτομα χωρίς δικαιοπρακτική ικανότητα), καθώς και για υποθέσεις στις οποίες το καθεστώς του προσώπου ως αιτούντος άσυλο/ υπηκόου τρίτης χώρας μπορεί να θέσει σε κίνδυνο την πρόσβαση του δικαιούχου στα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα ή να τον εκθέσει σε παραβιάσεις των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων (π.χ. π.χ. ρατσιστικά εγκλήματα, υποθέσεις SGBV, υποθέσεις κακοποίησης παιδιών, παιδιά σε σύγκρουση με το νόμο, θύματα εμπορίας ανθρώπων κ.λπ.) 

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