Statement by the Board of Directors of the Greek Council for Refugees


31 August 2022

It was with regret and concern that we followed the statements made in the Parliament by the competent Minister of Migration and Asylum and the corresponding statements of the Prime Minister, on the occasion of the rescue of 38 Syrian refugees from an islet in Evros, which target organisations such us, among others, the Greek Council for Refugees, an association that has been active for more than 30 years in supporting refugees, regardless of political positions and nuances.

As an organization, by definition non-profit and independent of the persons - members of its Board of Directors, who offer their services beyond any other capacity they may have, we are saddened by the offensive and arbitrary references to supposedly humanitarian facades, to organisations collaborating with smugglers or with the Turkish authorities. Particularly offensive are the references to the modus operandi of organisations when these actions involve interventions to the Greek or European justice system, as the Greek Council for Refugees has consistently done for many years.

Regarding inconsistencies regarding this particular case that were reported by the competent Minister as arising from an unknown investigation that is known to him (although a relevant judicial investigation is underway for the specific case, in which we have been invited and we are participating) and which will be brought to the attention of the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, we note that for this particular group of refugees, we had already appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on 20/07/2022, after we had previously appealed to all the competent authorities without any response. We had already addressed the Prosecutor's Office of the Supreme Court on 26/07/2022 regarding their non-rescue and the non-compliance of the Greek authorities with the orders of the European Court of Justice.1 We note that we had already addressed the Prosecutor's Office of the Supreme Court regarding complaints of illegal pushbacks in Evros since June 20192 , during the previous government, even publishing relevant reports and investigations 3 .

We wish to note that any shortcomings and inconsistencies in the recording of names are perfectly normal, under the conditions of terror and anxiety in which refugees, who are abandoned in various parts of the Greek territory, are subjected to, for fear of abuse and refoulement, as has been repeatedly and consistently reported, especially since March 2020 and onwards, both in Evros and on the Greek islands4 . The grief of the relatives for the tragic death of a 5-year-old child, for which there was a witness, which to his honour was accepted by the competent Minister, immediately after their rescue, must be respected.

We only have the commonly known maps at our disposal to check the point from which people address us for protection, asking for international protection from the Greek authorities. In this way, we are unable to check whether or not certain border points actually belong to the Greek territory, apart from checking every possible source available to the public. This is in addition to the fact that, under international law, previous actions by the Greek authorities, as well as the possibility of effective intervention by them in cases of areas, such as the Evros islets, which neither Greece nor Turkey recognise as their territory, also establish the responsibility of the Greek authorities. This responsibility concerns, above all, the search and rescue of people in danger, as an act of exercising state sovereignty.

Journalists, media and international organisations, who conscientiously do their work, are helping to protect refugees. According to the data presented at the Parliament by the Minister of Civil Protection, 234 people were rescued from islets in the Evros River in 2022. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in all of the at least 17 cases we have referred to the European Court this year alone5 .

Finally, we note that providing protection to refugees is an obligation under international law. Issues of national security are respected, but they cannot lead, on the basis of strict principles of international law, to the refoulement of refugees. The absolute obligation is to respect and protect human life, which we have unfortunately seen repeatedly put at risk in the name of border protection and an unspecified hybrid war, where human souls are being used as weapons, which are being exploited on both sides of the border.

Regardless of any exploitation or mistreatment of refugees by neighbouring countries, which we have repeatedly denounced and for which we have already appealed to the Council of State against the decision that designated Turkey as a safe third country6 , the defence of refugees and through this, the defence of the principles and values of the rule of law and democracy, is a major demand and stake, for which we will not cease to fight.





4 UNHCR, ‘UNHCR warns of increasing violence and human rights violations at European borders’, 21 February 2022, available at:;

‘UNHCR concerned by pushback reports, calls for protection of refugees and asylum-seekers’, 21 August 2020, available at:

IOM, ‘IOM Alarmed over Reports of Pushbacks from Greece at EU Border with Turkey’, 11 June 2020, available at:

CED, Concluding observations on the report submitted by Greece, CED/C/GRC/CO/1, 12 April 2022, paras 28-31, available at:

CRC, ‘Experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Ask Greece about Roma Children and Push Backs of Refugees at the Border’, 4 May 2022, available at:

UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Greece, A/HRC/49/5, 6 January 2022, paras 130.96, 130.202, 130.204, 130.209, 130.214, 130.215, 130.216, 130.223, 130.226, available at:

WGAD, Report of visit to Greece, A/HRC/45/16/Add.1, 29 July 2020, paras 87-88, available at:

UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, available at:

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, ‘Statement on preliminary observations and recommendations following official visit to Greece’, 22 June 2022, available at:

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Greek authorities should investigate allegations of pushbacks and ill-treatment of migrants, ensure an enabling environment for NGOs and improve reception conditions’, 12 May 2021, available at:

CPT, ‘Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee calls on Greece to reform its immigration detention system and stop pushbacks’, 19 November 2020, available at:

Frontex, Fundamental Rights Officer Annual Report 2021, June 2022, 7, 14, 39, available at:

5Αντί πολλών άλλων




Our Efficiency

  • 90% Program Services
  • 10% Management

ISO Certification



Certified with ISO 9001: 20155
No. 20001210004322
by TUV Austria