Legal Note: Rights and effective protection exist only on paper

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Photo:  RSA/giorgos moutafis

The current living conditions of beneficiaries of international protection in Greece are alarming, as beneficiaries do not only suffer from the lack of integration prospects into Greek society, but they are often faced with inadequate living conditions and humanitarian standards, a precarious socio-economic situation, and even have problems in securing their very existence. Such a situation undermines the effectiveness of the provided protection in line with The 1951 Refugee Convention and European law. An international protection status, which in practice does not necessarily secure a dignified life for its holder, amounts to no more than protection “on paper”.

Many beneficiaries of international protection live in abandoned houses or informally rented and overcrowded apartments under deplorable conditions, in abandoned ruins in Athens, on construction sites in Thessaloniki or in empty factory halls in Patras. Some have been evicted or face eviction without alternative; others sleep on the streets or in friends’ houses. Others are left to remain in the ”temporary” accommodation camps or UNHCR accommodation scheme or even in the so called “hotspots” for several months after their recognition where they are subjected to the same inadequate conditions as the applicants for international protection. Access to food, toilet, water, electricity, sanitary facilities and security is not always secured and they often suffer from the cold during the winter months or from the heat during the summer months. Many survive only by relying on the solidarity of others.

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