As civil society and Afghan diaspora organisations, we are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the treatment of Afghan asylum seekers and refugees in Europe.

 

One year after the Taliban takeover, the country is in a state of lawlessness without a constitution. The overall security, economic and human rights situation is deteriorating, and people’s suffering is increasing. Afghanistan’s economy has collapsed, and the country is confronting a dire humanitarian crisis, with 23 million people facing acute hunger. The general level of conflict has dropped compared to before August 2021 since the Taliban was a party to the conflict and has taken power, but the country is far from stable. Targeted killings and systematic attacks against religious and ethnic minorities, particularly against the Hazara community, revenge killings by the Taliban against former government officials and former military forces have significantly increased. Freedom of expression and movement of mainly women and girls has been severely restricted. Other rights are violated by measures taken by the Taliban, such as the ban on secondary school education for girls. Many human rights violations and incidents are going unreported in the absence of a vibrant civil society and due to the fear of Taliban persecution.

 

Read the full statement

In December 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of instrumentalisation in the field of migration and asylum. The proposal introduces a mechanism which allows Member States to derogate from their responsibilities under EU asylum law in situations of “instrumentalisation” of migration. The mechanism is permanently available to Member States who can invoke it in multiple situations, essentially enabling them to derogate at will from their obligations.

We understand that there is broad support among Member States for the proposed Regulation and that the Czech Presidency aims at adoption of a common position by December. This would make it one of the fastest moving legislative files related to asylum in Council. The proposal allows states to derogate from the proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation of 2016 and amended APR proposal of 2020 (APR), the proposed recast of the Reception Conditions Directive (rRCD) of 2016, and the proposed recast Return Directive (rRD) of 2018. The derogations are substantial and substantive, significantly affecting the rights of people seeking protection.

Ο Διευθυντής του Ελληνικού Συμβουλίου για τους Πρόσφυγες (ΕΣΠ) γράφει στα Νέα για την ανάγκη σοβαρού διαλόγου, σε συνέχεια και των 19 ασφαλιστικών μέτρων που έχει χορηγήσει το ΕΔΔΑ για υποθέσεις προσφύγων που εκπροσωπεί το ΕΣΠ, ανά περιπτώσεις από κοινού και με την HumanRights360 και την Υποστήριξη Προσφύγων στο Αιγαίο (RSA).

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.

With a joint letter to the Secretary General for Migration Policy and the Secretary General for Reception of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum on 28 August, 37 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) stress the concerning gaps with respect to the protection of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in Greece and call for action to protect their rights. You can read the full letter here

16/08/2022

The rescue of the 38 Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Evros was finally a relief for everyone who supported their claim for protection from the beginning. It was also a success against the policy of pushbacks, which are systematic and persistent in Greece but also in other EU territories.

The sad evidence of a death of 5-year-old child, that gained the media attention and the body buried on the islet, that none of the countries undertook responsibility, remains. We were pleased to hear the announcement that the International Red Cross will collaborate with the Red Crescent Movement to search and bury the body with respect and dignity.

We await the effective investigation of this specific incident, as well as of the drowning of two other refugees, one month ago, which is alleged to have occurred during the refoulement of this same group of refugees, to the same islet, in the middle of the Evros River, where on August 7th, 2022 were transferred there again by the Turkish authorities.

We also expect the official authorities to comply with the European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) orders and provide humanitarian aid and prohibit refoulement, that the Greek authorities, unfortunately, ignore, either under the pretext that the refugees cannot be spotted, or that the islet are not Greek territory.

The issue of the Ministerial decision that classifies Turkey as a safe country and applies for this group of refugees, remains for their return, while no such return has taken place for at least the last 2.5 years. This, although deportation orders have been issued against them by Turkey, under the threat of which they were forced to seek dangerous routes to Europe.

We highlight that we will continue to support those seeking protection, especially under conditions of threat to human life. The stoppage of refoulement practice, and the revocation of the decision to classify Turkey as a safe third country remains for us the main objective for refugee protection but also for the rule of law and our democracy.

For this specific incident, the mobilization of our organizations, but also the support of organizations operating in the region, namely the Border Violence Monitoring Network, the journalists (especially: Dimitris Angelidis and Giorgos Christides) who have been actively involved in highlighting the practice of pushbacks, were crucial, as well as the Εθνική Επιτροπή για τα Δικαιώματα του Ανθρώπου - ΕΕΔΑ, which intervened at a critical point to support the specific group of refugees.

Let’s hope that this incident will stand as a case to improve policies towards the purpose of respecting human life, which is often devalued in similar incidents.

 

15/08/2022

Greek Government insists that the islet where 39 refugees and the dead body of a 5years old child does not belong to the Greek territory and therefore is not liable for their protection. Yet, even so, this is not valid and it is contrary to the international obligations of the country.

From the moment once someone appears at the border of a country, submitting himself to the sovereignty of this country, then the international obligation of this country arises to allow his entrance, when he claims a risk of persecution to his country of origin or transit. This is so, since the fundamental principle of non refoulement applies, provided by art. 31 and 33 of Geneva Convention for the Status of Refugees, as well as other International Conventions that Greece* is bound and do not allow refusal of entry at the borders**.

As by consolidated jurisprudence the European Court of Human Rights has judged, the principle of non refoulement applies and binds states not only when they exert their sovereignty in their territory, as well as at their borders, but also extraterritorially, where they state authorities act, or where they exercise effective control***.

The certain group of refugees, for those 2 interim decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have been issued, indicating to Greece to provide humanitarian assistance and not move them to Turkey, has been found at the same islet where they currently are, initially from Greek authorities on 14/7, so as to be refouled to Turkey and moved back from the Turkish authorities on 7/8.

Greece has access to the certain islet, irrelevant if it is Greek soil or not, and has an obligation to provide assistance, since human lives are at risk. It has also the obligation to accept and examine asylum claims, since, against many of them deportation orders have been issued to be returned to Syria, relevant copies of which have been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.

When life is at risk, to claim that the area right next to your door does not belong to you and you claim that you don’t care for what is happening there, is just a pretext in order to evade your liability. The fact that Turkey also has liability for their condition is something obvious, yet it does not waive the liability of Greece to protect human life.

Save the people now.

______________________________________

*Art 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ratified by law 1782/1988, art. 7 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights ratified by law 2462/1997, and art. 7 of the European Convention for Human Rights ratified by law 53/1974.

** Guy Godwin – Gill – Jane Mc Adam The refugee in the International Law 3rd edition, p. 208.

*** ECHR Hirsi and Jamaa v. Italy, no. 27765/09, of 23/02/2012

 

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In the context of the project “Do the human right thing – Raising our Voice for Refugee Rights”, International Rescue Committee Hellas (IRC) and Global Girl Media Greece have created a series of videos in five different languages (English, French, Urdu, Arabic and Farsi).

Can I work in Greece? What documents do I need to get a job?

In the context of the project “Do the human right thing – Raising our Voice for Refugee Rights”, International Rescue Committee Hellas (IRC) and Global Girl Media Greece have created a series of videos in five different languages (English, French, Urdu, Arabic and Farsi).

Την Πέμπτη 28 Ιουλίου, η Υπουργός Εξωτερικών της Γερμανίας, κυρία Αναλένα Μπέρμποκ, στο πλαίσιο της επίσκεψής της στην Ελλάδα, συνομίλησε με εκπροσώπους τριών οργανώσεων της Κοινωνίας των Πολιτών, μεταξύ των οποίων και το Ελληνικό Συμβούλιο για τους Πρόσφυγες.

Στην κα Μπέρμποκ δόθηκε η ευκαιρία να ενημερωθεί για την τρέχουσα κατάσταση του μεταναστευτικού στην Ελλάδα, το έργο των οργανώσεων που δραστηριοποιούνται στο πεδίο, αλλά και τον ρόλο των άλλων ευρωπαϊκών χωρών στην διαχείριση του ζητήματος.

Η διοργάνωση της επίσκεψης έγινε με πρωτοβουλία του Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών της Γερμανίας και της Γερμανικής Πρεσβείας στην Ελλάδα και στη συζήτηση παρευρέθηκε ο Γερμανός Πρέσβης στην Ελλάδα, Δρ Ερνστ Ράιχελ. Στην συζήτηση συμμετείχαν, επίσης, εκπρόσωποι από τρεις οργανώσεις: Λευτέρης Παπαγιαννάκης, Ελληνικό Συμβούλιο για τους Πρόσφυγες, Αλέξανδρος Χρυσόμαλλος, Equal rights beyond borders και Μαρία Μουδάτσου, Praksis.

Athens, Tuesday 26 July 2022

The organizations Greek Council for Refugees and HumanRights360 submitted today a formal complaint to the Athens Prosecutor’s Office as a last resort to rescue the 50 Syrian refugees who had been stranded for 11 days on the islet of the river Evros despite the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to provide assistance and not remove them from Greece.

The refugees, including three pregnant women, twelve minor children and an elderly woman, had had no access to the bare necessities for their survival since July 14th; without access to water, food, medical assistance, they remained exposed to heat and humidity in a small islet in the middle of the river Evros. In fact, 3 deaths had reportedly taken place during the group’s entrance to Greece, when their pushback and abandonment was initially attempted. Since then, after addressing the competent authorities, we succeeded in having the ECtHR issue a decision on interim measures, which the authorities, however, refused to implement.

Worse still, today the Syrian refugees were pushed back to Turkey, one day before the expiration of the deadline set by the ECtHR and at the very same time when the Athens Prosecutor was being briefed on this case from our organisations’ representatives.

Accountability for the increasing violations of the rule of law is becoming more urgent than ever.

For more information contact:

HumanRights360: Evgenia Kouniaki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Greek Council for Refugees: Lefteris Papagiannakis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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