The Greek Council for Refugees publishes the annual updated AIDA (Asylum Information Database) report 2021 on the refugee situation in Greece, in the framework of its collaboration with ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles). The report tracks recent developments in the area of asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and content of international protection in Greece, as of 31 December 2021, such as: 

The Asylum Service received 28,320 asylum applications in 2021 (marking a 30.71% decrease compared to 2020), mainly from applicants from Afghanistan!

The recognition rate on the merits at first instance was 60% as was the case in 2020. However, a significant number of applicants have not been provided with access to an in merits examination and their applications have been examined under the safe third country concept, following the issuance of the Joint Ministerial Decision designated Turkey as a safe third country for applicants from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Bangladesh.

Access to asylum on the mainland continued to be a serious matter of concern throughout 2021. 

An increasing number of allegations of pushbacks continued to be reported during 2021 and have been largely criticised inter alia by UNHCR, IOM, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Council of Europe Commissioner, the Greek Ombudsperson and civil society organisations. Several reports indicate that they have become a “standard practice”, including violent border practices, arbitrary detention and even deaths at borders.


Friday, 13 May 2022 15:02

PRAB: Policy Note IV

When there’s a will, there’s a way to protection

Read the PRAB: Policy Note IV

The Greek government is operating “a two-tier refugee response” - one for Ukrainians and one for all other refugees according to a new briefing by the Greek Council for Refugees, Oxfam and Save the Children.  

The briefing details how, in the last two months, people fleeing Ukraine who are seeking protection in Greece were given swift access to protection, health care and the labour market. The Greek government has also started providing accommodation and support to buy food, the organisations said.  

In the same period, there were multiple incidents of violent “pushbacks” of asylum seekers from elsewhere - including cases of children and pregnant women who were detained and transferred by boat to islets in a river at the border. In mid-March, asylum seekers reported that a 4-year-old Syrian child tragically drowned after falling from a boat in one of these operations. 

The Greek government has also set up an easy-to-use online registration process for Ukrainians seeking protection. In contrast, the registration of asylum applications in mainland Greece is almost completely dysfunctional and inaccessible for other nationalities, and Ukrainians who had arrived in Greece prior to 26 November, the report says.  

The report details other instances of discrimination and differential treatment, with Ukrainians called “real refugees” and other people seeking protection labelled “illegal immigrants” by government officials. There were also reports that Afghan refugees in camps in Serres Camp in northern Greece are being forced to leave the containers in which they have been staying and move to a dilapidated part of the camp, to make space for newly arrived Ukrainians. 

The research in Greece was conducted by the Greek Council for Refugees, supported by Save the Children and Oxfam. The findings and recommendations in Greece could be relevant to other European countries that are hosting people who have fled Ukraine as well as refugees from other countries. 

Read the joint briefing from Greek Council for Refugees, Oxfam and Save the Children here

The first for 2022 advocacy update on the rights of children on the move in Greece, issued by GCR in collaboration with Save the Children International, presents an overview of the main issues and challenges faced by the refugee and asylum-seeking population, focusing on children. Major updates during January – mid March 2022 include, among others, the displaced persons from Ukraine arriving in Greece, the restrictions on access to asylum, legislative and policy developments regarding the National Strategy on Integration and the National Strategy for the protection of unaccompanied minors, and issues regarding access to education.

Read the advocacy update here

Tuesday, 08 March 2022 14:44

GCR & Oxfam Bulletin_ March 2022

Update on Lesbos and the Aegean Islands, by the Greek Council for Refugees& Oxfam
In September 2021, the Greek government opened the first Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) on the island of Samos. In this new center, built with €43 million in EU funds, containers with beds and toilets replaced the makeshift tents of the old camp. Yet testimonies collected by the Greek Council for Refugees from people living in the new center and civil society organizations report prison like conditions. Approximately 100 people have not been able to leave the reception center for two months due to an exit ban that the Greek administrative court found amounts to illegal de facto detention. The Ministry of Asylum and Migration takes great pride in the 24/7 surveillance and security control mechanisms of the new center, while at the same time, the medical unit of the facility has no doctor. These hotspots were born from the EU Agenda on Migration of 2015 and the construction of the closed camps are 100% EU funded. EU actors must ensure that the violation of the right to liberty in these centres is not purposefully part of a policy of deterring people from entering Greece, or indeed the EU. Closed centers and human rights violations should not and are not a migration policy strategy. These camps make it impossible for “Europeans to trust that migration is managed in an effective and humane way, fully in line with our [EU] values”.
In December 2021, a GCR delegation visited the Samos CCAC and met with residents, the administration, and civil society organizations operating on the island which provide legal, medical and psychosocial aid to migrants.

Read the Bulletin here

Read here the Testimonies document : Testimonies 

Photos of the new centre in Samos: 

This is the last -for this year- bimonthly Advocacy Briefing on the rights of Children on the Move in Greece, issued by GCR in collaboration with Save the Children International, covering major updates on the situation of refugee and asylum-seeking children in Greece during November and early December 2021.

One can find an overview or the recent developments regarding international protection in Greece, the reception conditions (mainland and islands), as well as some of the challenges the beneficiaries of international protection face towards their integration in Greece. Updates on relocation and protection aspects of Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC) are also included, focusing mostly on the National Tracing and Protection Mechanism, foster care and guardianship.
Wednesday, 22 December 2021 09:44

PRAB: Policy Note II

When  the  ends seems to  ‘justify’  the  means: Pushing  those  unwanted  out  instead  of  using existing   readmission   agreements –the   way forward?

Read the PRAB: Policy Note II

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 09:41

PRAB: Policy Note I

Destruction of property or evidence of people’s presence on EU Member States’ territory: atactic that   might   erase   some   traces   but   fails   to eradicate the marks on pushback victims

Read the PRAB: Policy Note I

Read the report here

Wednesday, 01 December 2021 14:30

GCR & Oxfam Bulletin_ December 2021

Lesbos Bulletin Update on the EU response in Lesbos, by the Greek Council for Refugees & Oxfam

Read the Bulletin here

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