PRESS RELEASE on the occasion of Syrian Refugees protesting in Constitution Sq.

In light of the situation faced by Syrian refugees arriving in Greece and the Syrian refugees’ protest in Constitution Sq. which started on 19th November 2014 which has escalated into a hunger strike, and in conjunction with the arrival of 700 individuals who were rescued by the authorities in the North East of Crete, GCR would like to highlight the following: 

The Greek state recognizes that especially Syrians, among other nationalities arriving in Greece escaping war, are in need of immediate protection measures and cannot return to their country of origin. It is for this exact reason that their deportation is suspended the appropriate amount of time. However, the mere suspension of their deportation order does not provide them with any other rights, and no appropriate, official steps are taken to ensure that Syrian refugees are able to enjoy the minimum of basic welfare services in Greece.

Refugee status is not attributed by the State, but is simply recognized to a refugee. Refugees are refugees in any case; they do not become refugees if and when they apply for asylum, and if asylum is granted to them.

The argument that the prerequisite for providing material reception conditions, food, housing and other welfare services, is the submission of an asylum application, "de facto" nullifies the required protection and decent living conditions for as long as the refugees wish to remain in the country. 

Dublin III obliges Syrians and other refugees, to seek asylum in the first European country they enter, regardless of their ability to survive in this country. 

The asylum application should not be a tool and a prerequisite for the provision of material reception conditions and immediate humanitarian assistance to people fleeing war conflicts.

We call on the Greek state, as a state solidary with the victims of humanitarian crisis and war, to provide Syrian refugees housing and food, to meet their immediate medical needs and offer welfare benefits to their families. 

The Greek state should demand from its European partners the equal division of responsibility amongst them, in order to meet the needs of newly arrived refugees and claim the repeal or amendment of Dublin III Regulation in order to avoid "trapping" in countries of southern Europe such as Greece, more refugees than their asylum and reception systems can efficiently manage. 

At the same time EU Member States must in turn facilitate the safe and legal access of Syrian refugees onto European soil, the reunification of Syrian refugees with their family members already established in other EU Member States, increase the granting of entry visas for humanitarian reasons, and provide resettlement opportunities in a proportionate manner for Syrian refugees who are gathered in neighbouring countries, endangering their lives on a daily basis, in order to succeed in accessing protection in Europe irregularly.

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