Press release

Athens, Friday March 18th

The Greek Council for Refugees and the HumanRights360 organisation express their contentment for the rescue of the 30 Syrian refugees that have been confined on the islet of Evros’ river.

The refugees, amongst whom two pregnant women and seven minor children, did not have access to the necessary means for their survival. They did not have access to water, food, medical care, or any means to keep warm, and they were exposed to the cold and humidity on the small islet in the Evros’ river for six days. In the video sent to our organisations, it is reported that they were eating garbage leftovers on the islet by those who had previously crossed this path, while they reported the tragic drowning of the 4-year-old son of one of the refugees.

March 2022 marks six years since the launch of the EU-Turkey Statement, which stipulated that people crossing irregularly to the Greek islands from Turkey would be returned there without having their asylum claims considered on merits in Greece. The Statement has become a hallmark of the EU shirking its responsibility to protect refugees, and continues to cause significant harm to people seeking protection in Greece. The impact of the EU-Turkey Statement was worsened in June 2021 by the Greek government’s own decision to designate Turkey as a ‘safe third country’ of asylum to which it would return people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria– the five nationalities that represented the majority of asylum applications in Greece last year.

In a new briefing, eight NGOs are calling on Greece and the EU to retract the EU-Turkey Statement and abandon the safe third country concept.

8 NGOs warn that policies implemented in Greece keep displaced people from accessing asylum procedures, despite clear need of protection

Read the Statement here

Implementation Period:

01/01/ 2022 – 21/06/2022

The project is implemented by IOM Greece and is funded by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.

Country of implementation: Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki)


To strengthen the prospects of independence of the beneficiaries by making them active members of Greek society.

To create an integration mechanism for these groups that will constitute a rotation mechanism in the already existing temporary housing system of Greece.



Integration courses: Integration courses in Integration Training Centers throughout the country. Each course will last 6 months and will include modules related to learning the Greek language, cultural orientation, degree of readiness for work and other skills.

Housing support: Support for self-contained apartments in rented apartments by giving them rent and moving expenses contributions and networking with apartment owners.

Employment Support: Provision for individual employment opportunities and enhancing work readiness by providing consulting services, access to job-related certifications and networking with potential employers.

Monitoring the integration process: Regularly evaluate the progress of the integration of the beneficiaries to ensure that they are able to negotiate successfully with the Greek public services after the completion of the HELIOS program and that they can live independently in Greece.

Awareness raising of host communities: Organizing workshops, activities and events and conducting a nationwide information campaign to create opportunities for interaction between the host and the host community, stressing the importance of integrating immigrants into Greek society.


** The project from July 2019 until December 31st 2021 was funded by Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission (DG HOME).



Α joint letter to the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, by 27 civil society organizations, regarding the use of the “safe third country” concept in Greece.

Read the letter here

Published: 6th March 2022

De facto detention, revenge tactics and despair for people in Samos closed refugee center 

New report from the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and Oxfam sheds light on the inside of the new 43-million-euro migration center on the Greek island of Samos. The report comes ahead of the 6-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal, and in the midst of already more than a million people fleeing conflict in Ukraine to seek asylum in EU countries. If ever there was a time to learn from the failures made in Greece, it is now.

The report found: 

  • Approximately 1 in 5 people have been in de facto detention for two months. This is despite a Greek court finding this practice illegal in the ruling on a case of an Afghan resident in the Samos center last December. The Greek administration continues to deny this illegal practice. Yet, testimonies gathered by the Greek Council for Refugees and Oxfam show this practice remains very much a reality. 
  • The use of “revenge tactics” in response to NGO reports, media coverage, and legal action by asylum seekers on illegal detention measures. This has included early morning raids, unexplained transfers to the police station, and oral eviction notices to residents appealing a negative asylum decision. 
  • The excessive use of security. There is constant CCTV monitoring of all residents and an 8pm curfew. To exit and enter the camp, residents need an “asylum applicant” card. Some people - like the newly arrived, those who can’t afford the second subsequent asylum application fee, or those waiting for the Greek authorities to examine their subsequent asylum application - do not have this card. In the future, not having these cards may keep people from getting food and clothes. 
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: 

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