Lesvos CCAP, Kara Tepes, Mavrovouni

27% of the total number of arrivals in 2022 entered Lesvos. The structure is located in the Mavrovouni location, about 5 km away from the centre of Mytilene. It began its operation as a Temporary Accommodation Structure for Asylum Seekers after the destruction of the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria from a fire in September 2020, and has since functioned as the Reception and Identification Centre of Mytilini (RIC Lesvos). In November 2022, the structure was transformed from a Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) to a Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC). It is located in a former shooting range and is very close to the sea, exposed to the weather conditions, especially to the north wind and dust, which makes living there really difficult.

We note that the structure has reached the upper limit of its actual capacity

(Lesvos Inter-agency coordination meeting, 27 March 2023)​


According to the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum[1], there were 95 unaccompanied minors on March 9 in Lesvos CCAC, 55 of whom lived in the “safe area” with a nominal capacity of 100 children.

There are worrying reports that unaccompanied minors, including unaccompanied girls, remain after arrival in the CCAC, often for an unspecified period of time, at periods when accommodation facilities for unaccompanied minors are full. RSA also points out that survivors of shipwrecks, belonging to a vulnerable group due to the state of danger they have experienced and because they often have lost family members, are driven to the CCAC immediately after their rescue, without receiving special reception conditions.

Regarding alternative forms of housing on the island, according to the UNHCR[2], the local NGO Iliaktida provides a structure for unaccompanied minors and IOM operates the “safe area” for unaccompanied minors. In addition, Diotima operates a programme for emergency housing for gender violence survivors, while the local NGO Solidarity Lesvos operates a housing programme for single women or/and with very young children. Finally, there are more than 220 people who have found housing on their own.

Within the CCAC, METAdrasi NGO provides non-formal education courses for minors and adults, while a few students attend evening schools. There is, however, an improvement over 2022 with regard to the participation of refugee children residing in CCAC in formal education, while at the same time, there are constant transfers of the children, since a significant number of the residents are transferred to structures in the mainland. In mid-March, out of 250 children at the age of compulsory education (4-14), 210 were enrolled in public schools, 150 were actually studying and 60 were on hold. Out of the 50 children in the 15-17 age group, 15 were enrolled and only 5 attended courses.

Difficult living conditions

The newcomers to Lesvos, before their official registration, resided quarantined in rubhalls[3] in the CCAC at least until the end of March 2023, with the exception of those who are transferred to the Controlled Facility for Temporary Accommodation of West Lesvos. According to testimonies from cases legally handled by RSA, there were cases in the previous period when newcomers had to sleep on mattress-free palettes and at particularly low temperatures.

There are shortages in hot water, children’s milk and bed linen, poor quality of mattresses, as well as complaints about the quality of food. Residents and people working in the structure speak of very frequent power cuts in addition to general problems. They also refer to economic hardship due to inability to find a job. Sabira*, an Afghan woman who has been living with her husband and three children for 5 months in a container, tells to RSA[4]: “We have no help. We used to be given shampoos and dish detergent, but now we receive nothing. There’s no organisation to help us here. (…) We have received the financial allowance only for 2 months. We used it to buy shampoo and internet access. Money is not enough. (…) My children need to take something to school for food, and we have nothing to give them. Not enough water is given to us, they only give us one bottle a day for each person.” Significant deficiencies are observed in adult empowerment and reception activities within the structure, aggravating the mental state of the residents. “One day spends like a year,” the woman adds.

On Lesvos, as in all CCAC, there are conditions of constant control, surveillance and repression, while actors in the field of protection report an increase in cases of violence and domestic violence. The mental state of many residents is especially burdened: “There are people who once they arrive on the island they are being chased by hooded people [in the context of informal forced return operations[5]]. They’re very traumatised. They constantly live in fear and insecurity” an employee emphasises to RSA.

Significant shortages of health and interpreting staff

Despite the relative improvement of housing conditions in relation to the notorious structure in Moria, the situation within the CCAC of Lesvos is particularly worrying, mainly due to the lack of medical staff, psychologists and interpreters. At the end of March there were only two National Public Health Organisation doctors inside the CCAC and the procedure for identifying vulnerability was very problematic. There is also reference to huge gaps in interpretation and shortages of personnel at the Reception and Identification Service.

There are people who have been granted refugee status and they have the document in their hand, and they don’t know what it writes and that they have been granted asylum,” a person working in an organisation tells us. We should also note that the National Public Health Organisation stated that from January 11, 2023 and until further notice, its Psychosocial Unit would not accept requests for psychological support due to lack of interpreters. By the end of March the provision of interpretation to the Unit had not been fully restored, resulting in significant gaps. The problems are exacerbated by the significant burden, due to the lack of staff, of the already understaffed general hospital of the island, causing reactions by the residents. In addition to this structure, Médecins Sans Frontières provides medical services and so does INTERSOS organisation with mental health and psychosocial support programmes. Regarding the effects of the security and surveillance regime within the CCAC on the physical and mental health of residents, Apostolos Veizis, doctor and general director of INTERSOS HELLAS, says to RSA: “Uncertainty, lack of health services, general lack of support services for these people, have serious consequences. We have seen in people who have had traumas, those traumas growing, and we have seen people who were healthy, then ailing, physically and mentally, under those circumstances. After the sessions in our centre these people have to go back to the CCAC, to the same place where the pain is ‘produced’.”

Problems with access to lawyers

Since the summer of 2022 and until the end of the year, there were significant problems in the access of lawyers within the structure. As RSA has pointed out in a joint submission along with the organisation HIAS to the European Ombudsman, lawyers wishing to enter the structure, had to submit a “request of entry” for each one beneficiary they wished to visit, at least one day in advance, in order to receive the “necessary approval” from the Administration of the CCAC. Beneficiaries also had to have given to the lawyers a signed authorisation in order for them to get an admission of entry – even for their first contact with them. These problems seem to have been solved for the time being after the reaction of the organisations in the field and the invocation of the opinion of the Athens Bar Association towards the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. At the present stage, for lawyers to enter, they must only show their lawyers’ identity.

According to the UNHCR[6], free legal services within the CCAC were provided in mid-March in the UNHCR Protection Centre on a daily basis, starting 10 a.m. by 5 pm, and alternately by the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) with a Greek lawyer, METAdrasi with two Greek lawyers and the European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL) with two Greek lawyers. Furthermore, as the UNHCR points out, apart from the ordinary presence of the aforementioned institutions, all legal assistance organisations in Lesvos have agreed to share their contact details in a “leaflet of legal assistance organisations”, which is available in eight languages and distributed by the UNHCR to all newcomers on the island, before registration by the Greek authorities, and at any other time that the residents in the CCAC request information for legal assistance by the UNHCR. Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) is among the organisations that offer free legal assistance to CCAC residents on a permanent basis.

The Black Hole of the Controlled Facility for Temporary Accommodation of West Lesvos

The Controlled Facility for Temporary Accommodation of West Lesvos (Megala Therma or Kastelia) is complementary to the CCAC of Lesvos (Mavrovouni)[7]. The newcomers arriving within the Municipality of West Lesvos are transferred there. Although it is now officially under the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Reception and Identification Service of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum[8], this structure does not abide by the prescribed registration and identification procedure and the identification of vulnerable cases, nor does it provide for appropriate reception conditions, with residents remaining in isolation from the outside world. The structure is located in a rented space in a remote area and receives people who have just arrived on the island. A deputy commander has recently been appointed there, but there is no administrative staff of the Reception and Identification Service on a 24-hour basis[9]. At the end of 2022, two posts of specialised security personnel were provided for 24/7, as well as one post for general cleaning and disinfection duties, for 14 hours a day[10]. The duration of these services was set on January 1, 2023 and ended on March 31, 2023. For the remaining hours and at a distance from the site, there is Greek Police staff, who cannot, however, de facto, respond to any urgent medical needs.

In this structure there is no medical or nursing staff, despite the fact that it is located more than 50 km from the Lesvos General Hospital “Vostanio” and about 30 km from the Kalloni Health Centre. The National Public Health Organisation Unit visits the structure in order to perform tests for Covid-19 and the Médecins Sans Frontières mobile unit visits the residents twice a week.

This structure was originally intended for a short stay of people. Even today, the necessary material living conditions are not provided, since it is located in a fenced open-air area, within walking distance from the sea and exposed to weather conditions. The individual parts within the structure are separated by barbed wire and people cannot move even within the structure, as the residents do not have the option of exiting the fenced area designated for them. Within each distinct fenced section, there have been placed plastic huts (RHUs/Refugee Housing Units) without beds, where residents reside in overcrowded conditions and without meeting the minimum standards of safe accommodation. There are makeshift faucets/showers/toilets inside the area, while there is insufficient access to basic sanitation. Access to hot water is also extremely limited given the often large number of people living there. Electricity is provided by a generator for a few hours a day, with no provision for heating or cooling.

Newcomers are in fact kept in the structure arbitrarily without any information provided to them, without any relevant decision and without respecting the strict guarantees of legislation on imposing administrative detention or at least the restriction of liberty within the structure applicable during the reception and identification procedure, without initiating reception and identification procedures and without being notified of documents for them to know their legal status. Since November 2022, this informal detention usually takes five days and at least until a Covid-19 test is carried out. The actual time spent there, however, is unspecified and extended when no places are available in the CCAC, a phenomenon which was observed at the end of March in cases supported by RSA. The result is that people are arbitrarily detained without a formal reason, without a legal procedure, for a period which is not counted, albeit should, in the maximum number of 25 days of their ‘restriction of liberty’, as provided for in the Asylum Code.

Temporary break for the EU-funded superstructure in Vastria by the Council of State

H υπό κατασκευή νέα ΚΕΔ στη Βάστρια

The Greek government aimed to inaugurate the new CCAC in the Vastria region and close the structure in Mavrovouni before Easter 2023. The new structure, despite the strong reactions of the local society, was located on an area of about 240 acres in a remote district in Northern Lesvos next to the landfill, and has a budget of EUR 76 million plus VAT. It is adjacent to a protected NATURA area and is 100% funded directly by the European Union through the Emergency Support Mechanism. The workings for its construction were conducted at an intensive pace in the previous autumn, despite the fact that a request for suspension had been submitted by the Northern Aegean Region and the neighbouring communities of Komi and N. Kydonia in the Council of State, while the issuance of the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment and the approval of the fire protection study were also pending. The Mytilene City Council in early February issued a unanimous negative opinion on the delayed Environmental Impact Assessment for Vastria and recommended the Region to reject it on grounds of public interest. The reactions from local factors are also strong, accusing the Minister of Migration and Asylum of lying.

The Council of State, in its interim decision (199/19.12.2022), upheld the application on the part examined related to the route of access to the Vastria structure, prohibiting its construction until the final judgement of the court on the application for annulment. The court upheld that the construction of the road would lead to irreversible destruction of the forest wealth and rare avifauna of the protected area. At the beginning of February, the Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis stated that the project had reached 50% of its technical completion and is in the phase of full completion within 2023. At the end of March, and despite legal impediments, the construction continued on even non-working days.

Capturing the change of the natural landscape due to the construction of the new Lesvos CCAC in Vastria through satellite imagery.

The structure is designed to have a nominal force of 3,000 people, with the prospect of infrastructure being increased to nominal capacity of 5,000 or more people, while, within the same area, a Pre-Removal Detention Centre (PROKEKA) is also planned, that will have an initial nominal capacity of 2,000 people, which can also reach 5,000. As a result, the total nominal capacity of the two structures can easily reach or even exceed 10,000 people. There are serious concerns that, due to the remote location, there will be no information and control on what will happen there, and of course there will be no potential for social pre-inclusion of refugees. There are also serious concerns regarding safety and forest fires. “We are opposed to this construction in the heart of the biggest pine forest of the Aegean, since the risk of fire in these structures is very high, as we all know, and if, in the summer, a fire starts from there, it will burn thousands of acres of virgin forest and risk people’s lives, as escape routes for so many thousands of people are problematic” Michalis Bakas, environmentalist and coordinator of the Ecologist Greens in Lesvos, points out in RSA.


*Names have been changed for privacy and security reasons.


  1. Written response to RSA on March 16, 2023, with the clarification that in Lesvos, along with the safe area within the structure, there is a place of unaccompanied minors accommodation. This 40-person capacity space operates under the Ministry of Migration and Asylum with the cooperation of the IOM. 40 unaccompanied minors are currently housed there. The discrepancy between all unaccompanied minors and those living in a safe area refers to minors separated by a temporary custody act.

  2. Information from the UNHCR written response to RSA on March 16, 2023.

  3. Particularly large, shifting structure like a tent, often used in emergency situations.

  4. Interview by telephone, March 7, 2023.

  5. According to reports, apart from cases of informal forced returns during sea operations, in Lesvos there have been recorded informal forced returns even of people who had already arrived in Lesvos and stayed in the quarantine area in West Lesvos. See here and here (p. 21-22).

  6. Ibid. 2.

  7. Founded by Article 34 para. 1 case c’ PD 106/2020.

  8. Article 12 PD. 77/17.11.2022 (FEK A ‘212/2022), that amended Article 34 PD. 106/2020.

  9. Decision under protocol number 747752/12.12.2022 of the Secretary-General for the reception of asylum seekers is relevant, available here.

  10. See the decision under protocol number 750660 of the Secretary-General for Migration Policy.

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In Chios, there was also an increase of arrivals in the last months of 2022 compared to 2021. Vial’s former Reception and Identification Centre (RIC), which has been operating since 2016, was renamed in November 2022 to Chios’ Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC). It is located 8 km from the city of Chios, bordering the village of Halkios. The structure was built in an older, abandoned aluminium plant, where half of the factory has been used in recent years as a waste separation and recovery centre, resulting in severe stench during the summer months. Until November 2022, the newcomers were transferred to the quarantine structure in the Lefkonia area for a period of 14 days, as part of the protective measures for non-spreading Covid-19. The quarantine structure in Lefkonia was finally closed on 31 December 2022.

Recently, the number of residents has decreased substantially[1]

According to the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum[2], on March 9, 39 unaccompanied minors were in Chios CCAC, all of whom lived in the “safe area” with a nominal capacity of 72 children. In mid-March, there was no longer a Commissioner for unaccompanied minors on the island, as the contract of the lawyer with that duty expired. At the same time, the Governor of the CCAC, whose term officially expires at the end of April, has stated his resignation. In Chios, the number of organisations active in the field has also decreased, with significant impacts on the provision of basic services and goods.

Alternative forms of housing for vulnerable adults and families no longer exist on the island. According to the UNHCR[3], METAdrasi operates a transitional accommodation structure for unaccompanied minors, the Ark of the World has a shelter for children whose parental care has been removed upon a prosecutorial order, while there are also some persons who have found housing with their own resources (self-accommodated).

Non-formal education courses for minors and adults residing in the CCAC are provided by METAdrasi.

Without a doctor and a social worker

The main problem in Chios during the RSA research period was the lack of a doctor within the structure as well as the deficiencies in psychosocial support, even for unaccompanied minors. Since April 2021 there has been no stable presence of a doctor within the structure. Also, there has been no social worker for a year, so, when an incident must be looked into, normally carried out only by a social worker, psychologists conduct the procedure. The vulnerability evaluation procedure seems to be inadequate, as in an attempt to find a solution to the serious shortage of medical staff, nursing staff is called upon to fill the gap, by asking asylum seekers questions. Then, the relevant documents are signed by a doctor who visits the structure from Chios’ hospital or from a National Public Health Organisation Unit. This procedure excludes from medical examination those who are considered not meeting the vulnerability criteria, since they are provided for with a medical examination appointment and a medical card only in case of doubt.

In mid-February, Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario (SmH), which covered serious deficiencies in medical care within the CCAC, and was registered in the previous Registry of the Administration, had to cease its operation due to non-registration in the NGO Registry of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. SmH had been on the island since 2015 with doctors and nurses, also providing ultrasound for the residents. Due to the withdrawal of SmH, which was cooperating together with the German organisation Offene Arme for the transport of emergency incidents to the hospital by taxi, and for supporting scheduled appointments, there was a large gap created, which has not been filled until now. The emergencies that arise in the structure must be served by the single National Emergency Centre (EKAV) vehicle on the island, which cannot already serve the existing needs of the local population, thus losing human lives. After the departure of SmH, residents – even pregnant women – must also address private doctors or the hospital (with significant delays) to make an ultrasound.

Shortages of basic goods

There is a significant improvement in the sense of security compared to the past. However, people who work inside the structure talk about containers in very poor condition, which need extensive maintenance to be habitable, and in most of which air conditioning does not operate, resulting in winter residents buying halogen stoves to warm up. Also, disinfestations are carried out, because of the many cockroaches in the spaces. The food is of low quality, and there are reports of food poisonings.

There are also serious problems with the schedules for transporting students from Vial to the public school. Clothes and shoes are provided by very few organisations outside the structure, such as Offene Arme. Employees report that there are shortages of basic goods at times, even for unaccompanied minors living in the structure.

Interpretation and legal support

In mid-March, the structure had three Arabic speakers, a French-speaking and a Somali interpreter, who were called to meet needs in other services as well, as at that time no other service had interpreters. The General Hospital of Chios “Skylitsios” no longer has interpreters, which makes it often extremely difficult for patients to communicate with staff. When an emergency arises, interpreters by telephone are provided by the CCAC.

According to the UNHCR[4], legal assistance is provided within the CCAC by METAdrasi, with a full-time lawyer, as well as by PRAKSIS for legal proceedings of children in families, with a part-time lawyer. The organisations Equal Rights Beyond Borders, A.Ss.i.S.T. and RSA also provide legal support, but have no presence within the CCAC.

Obstacles to the construction of the new superstructure in the Tholos area

The Ministry's goal was to open the new closed structure in April 2023, but a new deadline has been given for September 2023. Satellite lite Imagery: 9/7/2021

Despite the fact that the local society has expressed in various ways and repeatedly its total opposition to the construction of any superstructure in Chios and in particular in the Tholos area, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum insists on its construction. The Ministrys goal was to open the new closed structure in April 2023, but a new deadline has been given for September 2023. The construction of the 100% financed directly by the European Union closed structure in the Tholos area proceeds neither with the acceptance of the local society nor lawfully, with the Ministry’s request for access of the machinery to the disputed area being challenged in four consecutive court decisions. Last December, Chios’ single-member Court of First Instance, which discussed the Ministry’s request for interim measures in order to secure access to the Tholos area in question, refused issuing an interim order for the fourth time. The rediscussion of the interim measures is expected to take place on July 5, 2023, before the Chios’ single-member Court of First Instance. The Minister of Migration and Asylum has extended by amendment the possession of Vial (of municipal property) until December 31, 2023 for its use as a Reception and Identification Centre[5].


  1. According to the UNHCR weekly snapshot for Chios, as of April 2, 2023.

  2. Written response to RSA on March 16, 2023. The discrepancy between all unaccompanied minors and those living in a safe area refers to minors separated by a temporary custody act.

  3. Information from the UNHCR written response to RSA on March 16, 2023.

  4. Ibid. footnote 2.

  5. L 5003/2022 FEK 230/A’/14.12.2022, Article 136.

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Samos CCAC

There were increased flows of people recorded in Samos in the last months of 2022, as were in the first months of 2023. The Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) of Samos was inaugurated in September 2021 after the closure of the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Vathi and despite the reactions of local actors and civil society. It is located in the location “Zervou” of the Municipality of Eastern Samos, in a mountainous spot, in the area of the old slaughterhouses, about 9 km from Vathy (the capital of the island). Within the structure, office infrastructure has been created for around 400 jobs, to meet the needs of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the Greek Police and other stakeholders. According to the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry for Migration and Asylum[1], on March 9, 50 unaccompanied minors resided in the CCAC of Samos, 44 of them inside the “safe area”, which has a nominal capacity of 320 children.

NGOs operating on the island provide accommodation outside the structure to a very limited number of people. According to the UNHCR[2], as regards alternative forms of housing, there is only the transitional accommodation structure for unaccompanied minors by METAdrasi and a limited number of self-accommodated people, supported by the NGO Space Eye for renting apartments in an urban environment.

METAdrasi offers non-formal education courses for adults within the CCAC, while outside the CCAC, Greek courses are provided by volunteers. According to the RSA research, in mid-March a significant proportion of the children residing within the CCAC attended the public schools. However, there is a shortage of space in the halls of the Gymnasium and Lyceum’s reception classes, due to the lack of rooms. The Centre for Homework and Creative Activities by ARSIS operates in Samos, providing evening tutoring services for refugee children attending the public schools of the island, teaching Greek and English language and mathematics for unaccompanied minors, as well as providing life skills courses for all children[3]. At the end of March a total of 98 children attended.

Isolation and strict guarding conditions

The structure is guarded by the Greek Police and by a private security company 24 hours a day, with at least 50 uniformed people present on each shift. As refugees and lawyers told us, some of the main problems facing residents are isolation from the local community, disproportionately strict guarding, and even the use of force by the authorities. In a publication earlier this year, refugees complained that police officers — border guards had ferociously and unfairly beaten them, after taking them to a darkened part of the structure. The North Aegean Police Directorate has announced the launch of a Sworn Administrative Examination (EDE) on the incidents. Regarding the severe guard and surveillance conditions, employees were complaining about the violation of privacy experienced by residents and themselves as early as the beginning of 2022[4]. According to publications, even children are forced to undergo strict controls every day, i.e. in their school backpacks.

Samos’ CCAC was the first structure in which such strict control and surveillance measures were applied. The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) had warned as early as 2021 that this regime “violates the right of residents to private individual and family life” and that “the imposition of all manifestations of these people’s lives within a closed structure, within strict planning and control, implies the absence of private life, the destruction of their identity and dignity”. Médecins Sans Frontières have described the new structure as a “dystopian nightmare that will contribute to isolation and further re-injury” and have noted that the high-security infrastructures affect people’s mental health.

By talking to residents, it emerges that some people feel a sense of security in the presence of security and surveillance measures; others, however, feel that these are excessive and do not make sense: “They are strict and we do not feel their effectiveness, since there are still property losses, damages and quarrels” says Mohamed*, a Palestinian asylum seeker[5]. It is also doubtful whether data collected from the cameras can also be used when the residents themselves need it, for example for legal reasons. “As lawyers of the organisation HRLP, we have received dozens of complaints regarding police violence within the CCAC of Samos and we have also filed a complaint for one of our principals. To the best of our knowledge, no CCTV cameras have been yet used to investigate the complaints. We also know from principals convicted by the Samos’ Criminal Court for their alleged involvement in incidents within the structure, that they were asking both the police authorities and the Court to use the video footage of the CCTV cameras in order to prove their innocence, which however never happened. Having now undertaken their defence, we will request the reception of the material for the Court of Appeal” as lawyers Ioanna Begiazi and Dimitris Choulis from the organisation Human Rights Legal Project (HRLP), point out to RSA.

It should be noted that in Samos there has been recorded a case of illegal and arbitrary detention of eight asylum seekers of Palestinian origin in a police station on the island for a month, when they entered voluntarily to register their asylum request. Among them was a 20-year-old woman who, for 26 days, was held in a cell enclosed by bars — akin to a cage — inside the cell where the seven men were kept.

Shortages of services

RSA spoke with refugees that reported significant shortages of basic goods. “There is a lack of shoes and soap. Previously, there were volunteers who gave us such items. Now volunteers in Vathy give us these items, but again they are not enough” points out Samuel* from Sierra Leone, who has been living in the CCAC for several months and is waiting for an answer to his subsequent asylum application[6]. “The decision is ready (…) but they don’t tell me anything. The lawyer won’t let me know either. I’m very stressed. I don’t know what will happen” he adds.

Of particular concern is the information of planning to limit the availability of Wi-Fi access to the structure only to persons with a valid International Protection Applicant Card, from the beginning of the year. This would practically mean that access to the internet would not be given to other groups of persons, including those subject to reception and identification procedures, applicants awaiting a preliminary assessment of a subsequent application and those rejected. This measure has not yet been implemented, but if so it would bring an even greater isolation for these groups of residents in the CCAC. “This is essentially a plan for [mental] exhaustion of these people” as a member of a group of people who act in solidarity with the refugees characteristically told us.

Problems in legal support and medical care

Problems in the access of lawyers within the structure had been observed since the summer and until recently in Samos too, similar to those in Lesvos. Lawyers of the Avocats Sans Frontières, HRLP and I Have Rights organisations who do not work within the CCAC signed a report to the Ombudsman on the problems they face with access to the structure. As lawyers Ioanna Begiazi and Dimitris Choulis from HRLP told RSA, lawyers of these organisations must ask for permission and state the reasons why they want to enter the structure and with whom they want to speak, and they must also have an authorisation from this person. Upon entering the CCAC they have their (political) identities kept, while until recently their lawyers’ identities were enough – which should normally allow them to enter any public service[7]. Further, they are accompanied everywhere by a private security officer (G4S), from November 2022 until today.

According to the UNHCR[8], legal support within the structure is provided by METAdrasi with a lawyer, and by PRAKSIS for unaccompanied minors with a part-time lawyer. In addition, there are other legal assistance providers that provide legal assistance without a constant physical presence in the CCAC, namely Avocats Sans Frontières, HRLP and I Have Rights.

In the CCAC of Samos there was no doctor of the National Public Health Organisation in mid-March. A mobile infirmary by Médecins Sans Frontières is located outside the structure. The hospital on the island has no interpreters. An Arabic-language interpreter of the National Public Health Organisation from the CCAC and interpreters from organisations assist the hospital when necessary. Also, according to reports, donated medical devices have not been put into service. As publications report, National Public Health Organisation employees have come to the point of giving money from their own pockets in order to buy medicines for residents who needed them.

Significant shortages of human resources and equipment are also observed in the Samos hospital, with all that this implies for the inhabitants of the island and the residents of the CCAC. There are organisations that were active within the structure, but due to non-registration to the Ministry’s Registry, they no longer have access, and offer their services in places outside the CCAC, providing, inter alia, food and clothing.

*Names have been changed for privacy and security reasons.


  1. Written response to RSA on March 16, 2023. The discrepancy between all unaccompanied minors and those living in a safe area refers to minors separated by a temporary custody act.

  2. Information from the UNHCR written response to RSA on March 16, 2023.

  3. The Centre for Homework and Creative Activities operates under the programme “All Children in Education”, which is an initiative of UNICEF co-financed by the European Union and implemented by a number of partners, including ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth.

  4. See here and here.

  5. Interview by telephone on March 17, 2023.

  6. Interview by telephone on March 17, 2023.

  7. Article 34 L 4914/2013, FEK A’ 208/27.09.2013.

  8. Ibid. footnote 2.

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On the island of Kos arrivals were increased since the end of the year compared to 2021[1]. The Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) of Kos is located in an area of about 90 acres, at the site of the former camp “Makrygianni”, on a hill in the village of Pyli, 15 kilometres from the city of Kos. The CCAC was inaugurated in November 2021 despite opposition from local residents and stakeholders against the expansion of the existing structure. It is designed to run an office infrastructure for around 270 jobs.

According to the General Secretariat for Asylum Seekers of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum[2], on March 9 in the CCAC of Kos there were 53 unaccompanied minors, 34 of whom lived within the “safe area”, which has a nominal capacity of 170 children.

According to a recent publication by Equal Rights Beyond Borders and Terre des Hommes, conditions in the “safe area” for unaccompanied minors are miserable and extremely inadequate, as unaccompanied minors have limited access to schools, recreational or child-friendly activities and are guarded by the security staff at all times. Even very young children and babies separated from their mothers have been brought into the safe area. According to the publication, unaccompanied minors are not allowed to leave the safe area and remain restricted there for the whole duration of their legal procedure, which may take several months. Although there is a basketball court and a net, children sometimes cannot even use it, as the organisations report. “I was inside the safe area for two months along with other unaccompanied minors. We weren’t allowed out of there. There were no activities and the food was of bad quality; we felt like we were in a prison” says Khaled*, 17 years old, who is living in an space for adults along with his adult cousin who is in charge of his guardianship[3].

According to the UNHCR[4], there is no alternative accommodation other than self-housing in an urban environment on the island.

Volunteers provide Greek courses in places outside the structure. Volunteers also provide clothing and other essentials and try to help with medicines when needed.

As regards the non-formal education of children, based on the ARSIS data[5], in mid-March 70 children, of ages 4-17, attended the Centre for Homework and Creative Activities – KEDU, in Kos, which is part of the programme “All Children in Education”. Courses in Greek, English, natural sciences, art, as well as social skills development workshops are provided. According to the UNHCR[6], based on the most recent data available at the end of March (there may be deviations), approximately 40 children participated in the DYEP classes (Reception Facilities for Refugee Education – in kindergarten, primary and secondary school). Enrollment procedures have been normalised, while the number of children attending DYEP classes has increased.

Small amounts of food and problems of living

Refugees report poor food quality and very small amounts of food and also drinking water[7]. “We were given food once a day, and sometimes we received only one orange in the morning. We had reached the point where we were starving,” says Karim*, a 21-year-old Palestinian who is granted asylum status[8]. According to information provided by organisations working on the island, the catering company provides the three meals of the day (lunch, dinner and next morning’s breakfast) in one delivery every day at noon. There are also major shortages in the provision of essential food for children. “Previously, they were giving us a litre of milk a day for each child, now they give us only a glass of milk for each child; we have not received our monthly allowance and we have no money to buy food” emphasises Mahmoud* from Palestine, father of a small child[9].

Communal dining room, which while ready, has not been commissioned

Also, according to residents and organisations’ testimonies with whom RSA spoke, the washing machines and communal kitchens, while their construction is completed, are not put into service. There are also reports of shortages in clothes and shoes. “I arrived in September, and I’m still wearing the same clothes that I arrived with. When we arrived they only gave us soap and a sleeping bag” Ahmed*, a young Palestinian man, told us.

Finally, as is clear from refugees and solidarity groups’ testimonies, an extremely urgent housing problem arises for those who are granted international protection status and are forced to immediately leave the structure. They are mostly single men who are actually homeless, trying to either find an emergency solution by living together with several people in the hard-to-find apartments of Kos and looking for a job, or move to another Greek city with the same purpose. “Most people manage to find a job in the hotels when the [tourist] season starts in late April/early May, in poor working conditions (same as for local workers), mainly because of the exhausting working hours. Until then, they find themselves in a very bad state and even in conditions of homelessness, if they do not manage to find a solution through friends and acquaintances” a volunteer on the island points out to us.

Reported strict controls resembling imprisonment

Increased surveillance measures are prevalent also in Kos. In particular, the turnstiles with card readers placed in the separate sections of the structure result in certain categories of residents (such as those not registered or those whose asylum request is rejected) having their liberty restricted even within the CCAC, as we were told. There are also bad and dismissive behaviours towards residents and a severe shortage in interpreters, which significantly impedes communication between employees and residents and leads to tensions. Because of the exhaustive controls, many residents avoid leaving the structure at all. Residents told RSA that they had undergone intra-body controls upon their return in the evening to the structure, in search of drugs. In fact, we were told that this control has been implemented to female residents as well, with female police presence. “We do not have the money to buy food, would we buy drugs?” says Karim*[10]. We met him in the centre of Kos while he was waiting for his family from Gaza to send him money, in order to buy a ferry ticket and move to the mainland. The presence of the police is particularly intense around the CCAC and also in the city of Kos.

Further, there is tension in the area where the structure is located, with part of the residents and official representatives developing aggressive reflexes. In late March, the president of the Municipality of Pyli, declared in a publication that the anger of the residents for the whole situation is so great that they tell him that, unless something changes soon, they will take the guns and the law into their own hands.

Next to the CCAC is the Pre-Removal Detention Centre (PROKEKA). This is the only PROKEKA that operates on the islands of the Eastern Aegean, while transfers are made there from Kos and Leros CCAC. According to the testimonies we collected, the authorities ask newcomers to destroy the cameras on their mobile phones upon their arrival at the CCAC in order to prevent filming inside the PROKEKA.

Deficiencies in medical care and legal support

At the end of March there was neither a doctor nor a psychologist within the structure. Palestinian refugees told RSA that there are women even in late pregnancy who have not received the necessary medical help. “My wife is pregnant. (…) We went to the hospital and she had a blood test; when she asked for an ultrasound she was told to go to a private doctor. All we want is for a gynaecologist to see her (…) I don’t want her to give birth here (…) Since she hasn’t conducted an ultrasound, we don’t know exactly what month she is in, we count on ourselves” a resident in the structure told us[11].

Staff shortages in the hospital of the island are significant, with all that this entails for the local population and refugees in need of medical care. The fact that Kos’ hospital does not have an interpreter makes communication with patients significantly more difficult. Interpretation is extremely inadequate as it is conducted either by a compatriot accompanying the patient, or by another emergency solution. Due to the lack of a psychiatrist in the hospital of Kos, psychiatric cases involving those administratively detained are transferred, with the escort of police and even handcuffed, to the Leros Mental Hospital. In addition, there have been cases where severe psychiatric cases in the reception procedures in the CCAC, instead of being referred, have their “geographical restriction” lifted and are obliged to seek medical care elsewhere on their own.

According to the UNHCR[12], the organisations METAdrasi, Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and PRAKSIS provide legal assistance within the CCAC: METAdrasi with two lawyers (one position is currently vacant), GCR with one lawyer and PRAKSIS (providing legal assistance to unaccompanied minors in the “safe area”) with another. In addition, Equal Rights Beyond Borders operates in the CCAC with four members.

*Names have been changed for privacy and security reasons.


  1. During 2022, 30% of total arrivals arrived in the Dodecanese. This is the largest percentage compared to the other islands.

  2. Written response to RSA on March 16, 2023. The discrepancy between all unaccompanied minors and those living in a safe area refers to minors separated by a temporary custody act.

  3. Interview in Kos on March 21, 2023.

  4. Information from the UNHCR written response to RSA on March 16, 2023.

  5.  Written answer of ARSIS to RSA on March 15, 2023. The programme  All Children in Education – ACE is an initiative of UNICEF, co-funded by the European Union, and  and is implemented by a series of partners, among which is ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth.

  6. Written answer to RSA on March 23, 2023.

  7. The information about the small amount of food and water is confirmed by reports that the UNHCR has received from residents of Kos CCAC.

  8. Interview in Kos on March 22, 2023.

  9. Interview in Kos on March 22, 2023.

  10. Interview in Kos on March 22, 2023.

  11. Interview in Kos on March 22, 2023.

  12. Ibid., footnote 4.

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Leros CCAC

The Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) in Leros is located on an area of about 60 acres in a remote area on a mountainside, about 6 kilometres away from Agia Marina, the capital of the island. The structure was inaugurated in November 2021 despite strong reactions to its construction from local authorities. For its operation, it is designed to provide office infrastructure for approximately 300 jobs.

Aside from the direct arrivals, there are also transfers from other islands (Rhodes and Symi), exclusively to Leros.

According to the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry for Migration and Asylum[1], on March 9, 19 unaccompanied minors were in the Leros CCAC, 18 of whom lived within the “safe area”, which has a nominal capacity of 100 children.

According to the UNHCR[2], there is no alternative accommodation other than self-housing in an urban environment on the island. Employees in organisations report that those who are granted asylum are called upon by the authorities within a few days to leave the CCAC without an alternative or support mechanism, with the result that, at times, there are even cases of homeless families on the streets of the island.

Within the CCAC, non-formal education courses for adults are provided by METAdrasi and educational activities for children and parents by ARSIS. ARSIS also runs the Educational Intervention Mobile Unit in Platanos area, LEDU, which provides Greek and English language courses, creative activities and school support to refugee and migrant children of 4-17 years old[3]. In addition, social skills workshops, external activities and psychosocial support are provided to both pupils and parents/guardians. At the beginning of March, 48 children residing in the Leros CCAC were attending courses in LEDU.

According to the UNHCR[4], at the end of March, two children attended DYEP classes (Reception Facilities for Refugee Education) in Leros, as the local Refugee Education Coordinator has only recently taken office.

Shortages of basic goods

In Leros there are also serious shortages of basic necessities and delays in the payment of monthly allowances. In the mixed sector, the public laundry and communal kitchens operate, but the shops don’t, as employees report. Τhe food is also of poor quality and small quantity, while the catering company provides all three meals of the day once a day. There is a general lack of recreational activities, while unaccompanied minors remain restricted within the safe area without any recreational activities and with substandard psychological support. Food is not allowed to be consumed in the containers and is consumed only in public areas, while there are not enough shading areas for residents. The Citizens’ Collectivity still provides clothes, shoes and children’s items (nappies, clothes).

According to the UNHCR, at the end of March there were two doctors and a psychologist inside the CCAC. At the local hospital, staff shortages, which make the medical care of all patients problematic, have been repeatedly denounced. The hospital does not have an interpreter. Where necessary, the hospital cooperates with the CCAC to find an interpreter who will perform the interpretation either remotely or in person.

Body checks out of legality

The control and surveillance systems are the same as those in the CCAC of Samos and Leros. In early April, the Union of Employees in the National Public Health Organisation reported in a statement that employees are being asked to work in different environments than those for which they were hired, and called on them not to accept these conditions either for themselves or for the refugees. The Panhellenic Association of Employees in the Reception and Identification Service also issued a statement in early April, reporting, inter alia, that the security company’s guards carry out a body check on the employees because they refuse to undergo daily radiation fearing the effects on their health; a body check that crosses the line. As employees complain, there is a check even under the underwear, thus violating the dignity of women and men. In their statement, they refer to grotesque situations, as they say that employees are forced to pass through the X-ray control system even food items such as yoghourts, water, etc.; they are then told that they can consume them after an hour, in order to avoid a risk to their health.

Even children are forced to undergo strict controls mainly on entry, such as checks in their school backpacks, while inappropriate behaviour is observed by certain people of the staff in the structure towards the residents.

Shortcomings in legal assistance

In recent months in Leros, legal assistance is insufficient, as the number of available lawyers is not enough to serve the needs. At the same time, according to information from employees, in some cases there is not even sufficient information about the provision of legal support. According to the UNHCR[5], METAdrasi started providing legal assistance within the CCAC with one lawyer in February 2023. A UNHCR team from Kos visits Leros three days a week, for providing information to newcomers and residents and on issues related to integration.


  1. Written response to RSA on March 16, 2023. The discrepancy between all unaccompanied minors and those living in a safe area refers to minors separated by a temporary custody act.

  2. Information from the UNHCR written response to RSA on March 16, 2023.

  3.  Written answer of ARSIS to RSA on March 9, 2023. The programme All Children in Education – ACE is an initiative of UNICEF, co-funded by the European Union, and and is implemented by a series of partners, among which is ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth.

  4. Written answer to RSA on March 23, 2023.

  5. Ibid. 2.

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What is happening today in the refugee structures on the Aegean islands

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Racist Violence Recording Network - RVRN

2022 Annual Report

Racism and targeting of human rights defenders erode victims' safety and sense of justice

The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) held today a Press Conference to present the results from the recording of violent incidents with racist motive during 2022. This is the eleventh Annual Report published by the Network, capturing the quantitative and qualitative trends of racist violence in Greece.

During January-December 2022, RVRN recorded, through interviews with victims, 74 incidents of racist violence

  • In 33 incidents, migrants, refugees or asylum-seekers were targeted due to their national origin, religion or colour. In one of these incidents, a person was targeted both due to national origin as well as sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • In 1 incident, the target was Roma Greek citizens (ethnic origin).
  • In 2 incidents, a mosque and a Holocaust memorial were targeted.
  • In 38 incidents, the targets were LGBTQI+ individuals as well as human rights defenders, due to their connection with the LGBTQI+ people/persons. In this context, RVRN has recorded incidents of domestic violence, as well as intra-school or intra-university attacks, targeting LGBTQI+ people.

In 22 incidents, the victims stated that they have experienced racist violence in the past. In 39 incidents the attack was carried out by a group, while in 28 incidents only one perpetrator was reported.

Regarding the perpetrators’ profile, according to the victims:

  • In 41 incidents, there were civilians involved. 
  • In 15 incidents, the perpetrators were law enforcement officials. Based on the victims’ testimony, almost half of these incidents took place near the country’s borders.
  • In 7 incidents, the perpetrators were public servants.  
  • In 2 incidents, the perpetrators were employers in agricultural works.
  • In 6 incidents, the perpetrators were identified by the victims as members of racist violence groups.
  • In 3 incidents, the perpetrators were identified as mixed groups of citizens and members of racist violence groups.

Regarding the victims’ access to complaints mechanisms:

  • In the majority of incidents (44), the victims said that they would not take further action. Main factors seem to be the fear for secondary victimization or re-victimization. 
  • Fourteen (14) incidents had been reported to the police at the time they were recorded by RVRN. 
  • Criminal procedures were initiated for 5 incidents. 
  • In 4 incidents, the victims said that they had not reported the incident to the police but intended to do so. 

The above shows that underreporting of incidents of racist violence continued as a trend for one more year. RVRN stresses the need for the State to take immediate action to address secondary victimization, and violence in general, so that victims and targeted communities can have more trust in the authorities. In addition, the competent authorities should prioritize the creation of an effective support and protection system for victims of racist violence. 

 Based on the RVRN findings for 2022, the key trends are the following:

  • Existence of racism against refugees/migrants and LGBTQI+ individuals in the context of managing their daily lives (i.e. incidents of racist violence and/or racist behaviours during the daily activities of the victims, e.g. in public transportation, in the neighbourhood etc. These incidents are usually of low intensity and their perpetrators are individuals.)
  • Occurrence of incidents of organised racist violence, although to a limited extent, against refugees/migrants and LGBTQI+ individuals.
  • Targeting of human rights defenders, within Greek territory, especially those operating at the borders.

Professor Maria Gavouneli, President of the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR) and Maria Clara Martin, UNHCR Representative in Greece, opened today’s event while Garyfallia Anastassopoulou, Assistant Coordinator of the Network, presented the Report’s main findings. Eleftheria Koumandou, journalist, moderated the discussion that followed and evolved around the topic of the targeting of human rights defenders. 

Key speakers included the following RVRN members’ representatives: Chrysanthi Zakharov (Greek Council for Refugees) Elli Kriona-Saranti (HIAS Greece) Alexandra Panagiotakopoulou (Colour Youth | LGBTQ Youth Community of Athens) and Anna Apergi (Transgender Support Association). The panellists highlighted the context of targeting human rights defenders that RVRN has recorded regularly, pointing out the escalation seen during 2020, when the intensification of violence against defenders was recorded at the country’s borders, as well as the targeting through smear campaigns or criminalization of their actions, as monitored during 2022 and reported by international and European bodies.

The English version will be available during the next weeks.

RVRN is coordinated by UNHCR in Greece and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights and is comprised of 52 Non-Governmental Organizations and civil society bodies, as well as the Greek Ombudsman and the Migrant Integration Council of the Municipality of Athens, as observers. Members: Aitima, Solidarity Now, Antigone -Information and Documentation Centre, University of Aegean Anti-Racist Observatory, Arsis, Doctors of the World (MdM), Amnesty International, Network for Children’s Rights, Network for Social Support of Refugees and Immigrants, “Pleiades – Hellenic Action for Human Rights”, Hellenic League for Human Rights, Hellenic Red Cross, Greek Council for Refugees, Greek Forum of Migrants, Greek Forum of Refugees, Human Rights Commission of the Bar Association of Rhodes, Positive Voice, Medical Intervention, Caritas Athens, Caritas Hellas, Centre for Research on Women’s Issues “Diotima”, Center for Life, “Babel” Day Centre, SYNYPARXIS (Coexistence) – ECUMENICAL REFUGEE PROGRAM, Network for the Support of Refugee and Migrant Rights (Patras), World Without War and Violence, LATHRA? – Solidarity Committee for Chios refugees, METAdrasi, Rainbow Families, Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, Group of Lawyers for the Support of Refugee and Migrant Rights (Thessaloniki), Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, Association of Afghans United In Greece, Association of Social Workers of Greece, Greek Transgender Support Association, Faros tou Kosmou, Refugee Support Aegean, Act Up Hellas, ASANTE, Colour Youth – LGBTQ Youth Community of Athens, Generation 2.0 RED, HIAS in Greece, HumanRights360, Melissa Network, PRAKSIS, A21, Simeio for studying and fighting the far-right, Lesvos Solidarity, Steps, Legal Centre Lesvos, Aegean Migrant Solidarity | Christian Peacemaker Teams, ELLAN PASSE, International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Systemic deficiencies in the access of beneficiaries of international protection to documents and socio-economic rights

Structural problems persist in the access of recognised refugees to documents and their rights, according to the new annual report published today by Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) and PRO ASYL. These problems are highlighted in the report also through many refugees’ personal stories, whose cases are taken over by RSA.

While the European Commission decided in early 2023 to launch infringement proceedings against Greece for poor transposition of EU law, and countries such as Germany and the Netherlands have opposed the deportation of beneficiaries of international protection to Greece, except in exceptional cases, people are still returned in the country without any support, information or documents in force.

Most difficulties are encountered vis-à-vis access to a residence permit (ADET), which is obstructed by an array of administrative barriers, and slow processing times at the different stages of the ADET issuance and/or renewal procedure, which may exceed one year. Without a valid ADET, refugees cannot access social benefits, health care, the labour market, or even authorise a legal representative.

In addition, beneficiaries of international protection face serious problems in terms of access to social welfare, although they are par excellence a population group with an increased need for it. Beneficiaries of international protection are de facto excluded from access to benefits, to which Greek citizens do have access, as these benefits are subject to lengthy residence requirements and do not take into account the particular situation of refugees. As a consequence, beneficiaries of international protection are subjected to differential treatment compared to Greek nationals and are de facto excluded from most forms of social assistance, as pointed out in the recent infringement proceedings by the European Commission.

Finally, they continue to face serious barriers to access to housing, in particular due to discrimination, the precondition of possession of AFM and a bank account, and a lack of affordable housing. High risks of homelessness and destitution persist among people granted international protection in Greece, given that access to the necessary documents and resources to secure accommodation is not possible within the 30-day deadline left to persons to vacate their reception places upon obtaining international protection. These risks have been exacerbated by the termination of the ESTIA programme, whose status holder beneficiaries became homeless.

The Greek asylum procedure in figures in 2022

Analysis of main trends in refugee protection

This Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) policy note analyses the main trends and developments in the Greek asylum procedure in 2022, based on responses to parliamentary questions and on monthly reports of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.


Key figures

Asylum applications

    • Following the new registration procedure in mainland RIC, 13,230 pre-registrations of asylum claims were conducted by the RIS, 11,576 by the Police and 1,825 by the Asylum Service.
    • The online platform for registration appointments on the mainland has granted 49,337 appointments at the RIC of Malakasa and Diavata.
    • 37,362 asylum seekers lodged applications. Despite an increase in registrations on the Eastern Aegean islands (11,496), most were registered in Attica again (13,329).
    • 8,265 subsequent applications were lodged, i.e. almost 25% of total cases.  1,187 of those were subject to a 100 € fee per person.

First instance procedure at the Asylum Service

    • The in-merit recognition rate at first instance rose to 62.3%, almost exclusively consisting of refugee status.
    • Most negative first instance decision concerned manifest unfoundedness (8,323), mainly in relation to the national list of “safe countries of origin”.
    • The Asylum Service dismissed 3,601 applications as inadmissible on “safe third country” grounds and 4,144 as inadmissible subsequent claims.
    • As for the border procedure, 2,286 decisions were issued and only seven cases were exempted. The recognition rate reached 86.6%.
    • Of 17,249 pending cases at first instance, 4,134 were pending for over a year, while in 8,407 the personal interview had not been conducted. Most pending cases concern Syria and Afghanistan.

Second instance procedure at the Appeals Committees

    • 16,830 appeals were lodged. Only 7,925 of those benefitted from free legal assistance by the Registry of Lawyers of the Asylum Service.
    • 1,818 appeals were dismissed for want of in-person appearance or submission of a residence certificate and 1,096 for late submission, with no examination.
    • 494 appeals were examined by oral hearing at the Appeals Committees.
    • The in-merit recognition rate rose to 11.8%. Appeals Committees made wider use of subsidiary protection than the Asylum Service, especially for Afghanistan cases.
    • Appeals Committees dismissed 2,747 applications inadmissible on “safe third country” grounds and 2,089 as inadmissible subsequent claims.

Judicial review at the administrative courts

    • The approval rate of judicial review applications at the administrative courts rose to 20%, with 57 granted applications and 230 rejections.
    • 2,050 judicial review applications are pending at the administrative courts.

Introduction: a need for constant improvement of statistical practice

Full and transparent publication of asylum statistics has been a core demand of MPs and civil society in Greece from the re-establishment of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum to present.[1] Requests to the government for data – which have been appropriately responded to in a timely manner – continue to contribute to notable improvements in the quality of the Ministry’s monthly statistical reports and to highlight the elements necessary for an evidence-based debate on refugee protection.

Asylum procedure at first and second instance

The detailed presentation of first and second instance asylum decisions by type and by month from October 2022 monthly reports onwards is a notable positive development in the statistical practice of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. Such disaggregation allows for analysis and an in-depth understanding of the workings of the asylum process in Greece, not least in distinguishing unfounded and manifestly unfounded applications and in unpacking the various inadmissibility grounds set out in law. In this regard, Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) reiterates that recognition rates in the asylum procedure should be accurately depicted and should not conflate in-merit decisions for applicants not qualifying for international protection with inadmissibility decisions for reasons such as “safe third country” or subsequent claims with no new substantial elements, which have no bearing on the criteria for international protection.

We further note that monthly reports of the Ministry do not disaggregate first and second instance decisions by country of origin. However, detailed figures by country and type of decisions have been secured through parliamentary questions. It is crucial for such data to be incorporated into the statistical practice and regular reports of the Ministry.

In addition, monthly reports do not contain statistics on the workings of the border procedure under Article 95 of the Asylum Code. These have also been requested and obtained through parliamentary questions. The inclusion of such data in the reports would enable thorough analysis of the procedure and comparison of border and regular procedures, particularly in light of ongoing EU-level negotiations on wider use of these procedures under the Asylum Procedures Regulation.

Other relevant elements of the asylum process left out of monthly reports but published via parliamentary scrutiny include pre-registrations of asylum applications by competent authority (Asylum Service, RIS, Hellenic Police), free legal assistance in the second instance procedure before the Appeals Committees and oral hearings at the Committees; the latter required by Article 4(3) L 4375/2016.

Finally, RSA recalls its recommendations to the Greek government to align the data sets submitted to Eurostat and kept by the Ministry on the accelerated procedure and on withdrawals of international protection status.[2]

Judicial protection

An important improvement in the statistical practice of the government relates to the correct presentation of data on judicial review of asylum decisions in monthly reports issued from June 2022 onwards: administrative court decisions on judicial review are presented by date of decision, and negative decisions are distinguished from withdrawals, as recommended by RSA in early 2022.[3]

Judicial review data could be embellished with more detailed figures e.g. disaggregation by administrative court or country of origin of applicant.

In this policy note, RSA analyses key developments and trends in the Greek asylum procedure in 2022 based on the latest statistics made available through Ministry of Migration and Asylum monthly reports and parliamentary scrutiny.[4]

Registration of asylum applications

Access to the procedure​

The launch of the new process of “uniform registration” of applications by the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) in mainland Greece since September 2022,[5] coupled with the start of operations of the Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) of Malakasa and Diavata, has led to a drop in pre-registration of applications by Regional Asylum Offices (RAO) and Autonomous Asylum Units (AAU) of the Asylum Service. This is due to the fact that booking a registration appointment at the RIC of Malakasa and Diavata via the online platform of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum is now the sole means of access to the asylum procedure on the mainland.

From its launch on 13 July 2022 to 22 February 2023, the online platform has granted 49,337 registration appointments at the RIC of Diavata and Malakasa:

In 2022, the RIS carried out 13,230 pre-registrations of asylum applications, while 11,576 were conducted by the Hellenic Police and only 1,825 by the Asylum Service.

The Asylum Service and the RIS, as Responsible Authorities under Article 1(q) of the Asylum Code,[6] lodged a total of 37,362 asylum applications in 2022. The number of applicants lodging claims was significantly higher than that of irregular arrivals (17,122) according to official figures.

Overall figures for 2022 indicate another increase in asylum seekers (31% of the total) registered on the Eastern Aegean islands (11,496), though the majority of applicants (36% of the total) were again registered in Attica (13,329) this year. The main registration points were the RIC of Fylakio, the RAO of Attica and the Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) of Lesvos.

The main nationalities of asylum seekers lodging applications in 2022 were as follows:

According to the figures, the main countries of origin of applicants include all nationalities for which Türkiye has been designated as a “safe third country” based on a national list (JMD 42799/2021), under a presumption of inadmissibility. Four nationalities fall under the national list of “safe countries of origin” (JMD 708368/2022) and thereby the accelerated procedure under a presumption of manifest unfoundedness. Nationals of Pakistan and Bangladesh fall within the scope of both lists.

Subsequent applications

A total of 8,265 subsequent asylum applications were lodged in 2022. This represents a steady increase from 5,802 in 2021 and 2,700 in 2020, as a result inter alia of the persistent, arbitrary application of the “safe third country” concept. Almost one out of four asylum claims was a subsequent application according to Ministry of Migration and Asylum figures.

Out of 8,265 subsequent applications, 1,187 relate to second or onward subsequent asylum claims and are subject to a 100 € fee per person pursuant to Article 94(10) of the Asylum Code and JMD 472687/2021. Therefore, at least 118,700 € were paid to the Greek State for access to the asylum procedure in 2022 on the basis of said rule. Judicial review applications on the legality of the fee are pending before the Council of State and are expected to be heard in June 2023.

In its response to parliamentary questions, the Ministry points out that only 293 subsequent applications were lodged following rejection of the initial claim based on the “safe third country” concept and that only 25 of those were subject to the 100 € fee. However, figures submitted by Greece to Eurostat demonstrate that subsequent applications were lodged by 1,545 Afghans, 770 Syrians and 185 Somalis, for whom Türkiye is designated as a “safe third country” in line with JMD 42799/2021.[7] These figures cast doubt on the accuracy of data provided by the Ministry and on the exact number of subsequent claims linked to “safe third country”.

First instance procedure at the Asylum Service

 According to Ministry of Migration and Asylum figures, the Asylum Service issued 59,593 first instance decisions in 2022. Of those, only 30,886 i.e. just over ½ were decisions on the merits of asylum claims:

Out of 30,886 in-merit decisions taken by the Asylum Service in 2022, 19,243 were positive and 11,643 were negative. The overwhelming majority of positive decisions (18,730) granted refugee status, while only 513 granted subsidiary protection.

An indicative comparison of first instance decisions on claims related to Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia is offered below:

RSA reminds that recognition rates should not conflate in-merit rejections of cases that do not qualify for international protection with inadmissibility decisions which do not assess the criteria for granting international protection. In 2022, Greece had a first instance recognition rate of 62.3%, meaning that at least three in five applications processed on the merits were accepted. Yet, Ministry of Migration and Asylum reports incorrectly refer to a 49.8% recognition rate.

The impact of conflation of in-merit and inadmissibility decisions is evident in the recognition rates for the above countries of origin, for which Türkiye is designated as a “safe third country” per JMD 42799/2021:

Inadmissible applications

 The Asylum Service dismissed 8,962 asylum applications as inadmissible based on the inadmissibility grounds set out in Article 89 of the Asylum Code without assessing the mon the merits and examining whether applicants qualify for refugee status or subsidiary protection:

Safe third country

Greece has continued to systematically and arbitrarily implement the “safe third country” concept based on Article 91 of the Asylum Code and the national list of “safe third countries”, in spite of a clear lack of prospect of readmissions to Türkiye since 2020, as recently highlighted by the Plenary of the Council of State in a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).[8]

The Asylum Service dismissed 3,601 claims as inadmissible based on the concept. Of those, 3,445 concerned Türkiye as a “safe third country”, 96 North Macedonia and 60 Albania.

Albeit lower than 2021 (6,424), the number of inadmissible applications based on the “safe third country” concept during the second half of 2022 (2,468) was more than double the number of the first half of the year (1,143).

Specifically as regards the five countries of origin for which Türkiye is designated as a “safe third country”, i.e. Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 3,194 out of the 3,445 first instance inadmissibility decisions (92.7%) concern the mainland, as only 251 were issued in the border procedure applicable to the Eastern Aegean islands where the EU-Turkey deal applies. Official figures provided by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum to the Hellenic Parliament refer to the implementation of the national list in 2022 as follows:

Subsequent applications

The majority of inadmissibility decisions at first instance (4,144) concerned subsequent applications which were deemed not to present new and substantial elements upon preliminary examination by the Asylum Service in line with Article 94 of the Asylum Code.

The majority of inadmissible subsequent applications concern nationals of Pakistan. Moreover, 109 claims by Somalis, 80 by Afghans and 22 by Syrians, normally lodged following rejection of the initial claim on “safe third country” grounds, were dismissed as inadmissible subsequent claims:

Accelerated procedure

Throughout 2022, the Asylum Service systematically applied the accelerated procedure under Article 88(9) of the Asylum Code and rejected asylum applications as manifestly unfounded based on one of the grounds set out in the provision. In fact, the overwhelming majority of negative first instance decisions relate to manifestly unfounded claims (8,323) and more than double the number of merely unfounded claims (3,282). Yet, Greece incorrectly insists on submitting zero figures to Eurostat in the context of data collection on the use of accelerated procedures in national asylum systems.[9]

Statistics provided to the Hellenic Parliament reveal that manifestly unfounded rejections mainly – albeit not exclusively – relate to nationals of countries included in the “safe countries of origin” list. Of 8,323 manifestly unfounded claims in 2022, 8,206 (98.6%) concerned listed countries, namely Pakistan (2,691), Bangladesh (2,352), Egypt (1,052) and Albania (883).

According to Ministry data, the Asylum Service therefore rejected 117 asylum applications as manifestly unfounded in respect of nationalities outside the scope of the “safe countries of origin” list.

Border procedure

As per Article 95 of the Asylum Code, the border procedure is applicable only to claims made “at the border” or in “transit zones” of ports and airports.[10] Only by way of derogation in cases of “mass arrivals” may its application be extended to people making an asylum claim while they remain in a RIC or CCAC.[11]

In contravention of the boundaries of the border procedure, however, the Asylum Service continued to systematically use the border procedure in the CCAC of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos in 2022 without there being circumstances of “mass arrivals” or regulations to that end after the effects of JMD 15596/2020 ceased at the end of 2021. Furthermore, reports refer to incorrect use of the border procedure in the RIC of Diavata and Malakasa on the mainland.[12]

In addition, a border procedure may only be used to assess asylum applications on admissibility, or on the merits if one or more grounds in Article 88(9) of the Asylum Code apply.[13]

The Asylum Service took 2,286 first instance decisions in the border procedure in 2022. Yet, only 462 of those were inadmissibility decisions and 74 were manifestly unfounded rejections. This means that the majority of decisions (1,750) exceed the scope of Article 95(1) of the Asylum Code and should not have been issued in that procedure.

1,580 out of 1,824 in-merit decisions taken in the border procedure were positive, pointing to a high recognition rate of 86.6%, compared to 62.3% across all procedures.

Only seven cases were exempted from the border procedures on grounds of vulnerability and need for special procedural guarantees.

Formal decisions

Almost 20,000 first instance decisions issued in 2022 concern discontinuations (13,559), terminations (6,369) and explicit withdrawal of applications (817) without any assessment of the asylum application on admissibility or merits. The Asylum Service continues to issue such decisions en masse at particular points in time. For instance, according to Ministry figures, 2,503 cases were terminated in June 2022 and 1,930 in November, while 2,533 cases were discontinued in May.

Second instance procedure at the Appeals Committees

16,830 appeals were lodged against Asylum Service decisions in 2022. Of those, 14,950 were lodged on the mainland (88.8%) and 1,880 on the islands (11.2%). The main countries of origin of appellants were as follows:

 Free legal assistance by the Registry of Lawyers of the Asylum Service was requested in 7,925 cases in 2022, i.e. only 47% of submitted appeals. 3,529 of those requests concern RAO and AAU in Attica, while 1,122 relate to the Eastern Aegean islands.

Examination of appeals

The Appeals Committees took a total of 17,317 decisions in the past year. Oral hearings were held under Article 102(3) of the Asylum Code only in 494 cases.

1,818 appeals were dismissed by the Appeals Committees due to failure on the part of the appellant to appear in person or to submit a timely certificate of residence in a reception facility – though this is often attributed to the authorities – for the purposes of examination of the appeal.[14] This is almost triple the number of decisions issued in 2021 (532) on the basis of the same provisions. Practice demonstrates systematic resort to Articles 83(3) and 102(3) of the Asylum Code in a manner that raises severe concerns around the right to an effective remedy in the asylum process. The main countries of origin of appellants whose appeals were dismissed on those grounds were Pakistan (524), Albania (347), Bangladesh (180), Georgia (96), Iraq (85), DRC (82) and Afghanistan (70).

The Appeals Committees also dismissed 1,096 appeals on grounds of late submission in 2022. Most concern nationals of Pakistan (383), Bangladesh (145), DRC (73), Afghanistan (70), Georgia (68) and Albania (66).

Decisions on the merits

 8,939 out of a total of 17,317 second instance decisions were decisions on the merits of asylum applications:

The overall recognition rate at the Appeals Committees stood at 11.6%, slightly higher than 10.6% in 2021. Contrary to the Asylum Service, however, the Appeals Committees made more systematic use of subsidiary protection. 394 decisions granted subsidiary protection and 661 granted refugee status.

This practice is likely related to situations where an inadmissibility e.g. “safe third country” decision is annulled on appeal and the case is examined on the merits without the conduct of an oral hearing on the reasons for flight from the home country,[15] in stark contravention of Articles 82(1) and 102(3) of the Asylum Code; oral hearings were only held in 494 cases, i.e. less than 3% of the Appeals Committee caseload. This is particularly problematic for asylum claims from Afghanistan, where Appeals Committees granted refugee status in 232 cases and subsidiary protection in 181 cases.

Furthermore, there are substantial disparities between recognition rates at first and second instance for cases concerning the same countries of origin. Positive in-merit decision rates for applications from selected countries were as follows:

Inadmissible applications

The Appeals Committees dismissed 4,947 asylum applications as inadmissible, excluding appeals dismissed on grounds of late submission or on “manifest unfoundedness” due to failure to appear in person or to submit a residence certificate upon examination.

2,747 of those inadmissibility decisions relate to the “safe third country” concept, including 2,709 on Türkiye as a “safe third country”, 25 on North Macedonia and 13 on Albania. Ministry figures state, however, that the national list of “safe third countries” was applied to 2,696 cases vis-à-vis Türkiye and one case regarding Albania.

On correct reading of Ministry of Migration and Asylum data, 597 asylum applications were deemed admissible by the Appeals Committees on the ground that “safe third country” criteria were not fulfilled.[16]

The Appeals Committees dismissed 2,089 subsequent applications as inadmissible for want of new substantial elements. Main countries of origin were as follows:

Judicial review at the administrative courts

745 judicial review applications against Appeals Committee decisions were lodged with the Administrative Courts of Athens and Thessaloniki in the course of 2022. However, due to a preliminary question before the Council of State relating to the constitutionality of Article 5(7) L 4375/2016 on single-judge composition within the Appeals Committees, all cases of judicial review of Committee decisions taken in single-judge composition has temporarily been suspended until a judgment is delivered by the highest court on the matter. The pilot procedure is expected to be heard on 28 March 2023.

Ministry of Migration and Asylum data on judicial review of asylum decisions are as follows:

The above figures show that the majority of applications for judicial review of Appeals Committee decisions are dismissed by the administrative courts as inadmissible. Inadmissibility grounds under PD 18/1989 include legal representation and fees.

As for applications examined on the merits, the approval rate at the courts rose from 13% in 2021 to 20% in 2022, with 57 applications granted and 230 rejected.

Pending applications

As of 31 December 2022, Greece had 22,316 pending asylum applications, of which 146 pending lodging, 17,249 at first instance and 4,921 at first instance. The steady decrease of the backlog since March 2020 at both first and second instance stopped at the end of 2022 following a slight increase in pending cases. Another 2,050 judicial review applications are pending before the administrative courts.

Of 17,249 pending cases at first instance, 4,314 were pending at the Asylum Service for over a year. Moreover, in 8,407 cases the personal interview had not yet taken place. Most interview (8,112) had been scheduled for 2023 and 295 for 2024 or later.

The main nationalities of asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their case are as follows:


  1. See in particular Hellenic Parliament, Written question by KINAL, 2277, 14 February 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3ToLQsE; Written question by KINAL, 6409, 13 July 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3n1OEQq; Written question by KINAL, 2608, 24 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3JllmDy; Written question by KINAL, 7706, 1 July 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3Fz9g95; RSA, The Greek asylum procedure in figures: most asylum seekers continue to qualify for international protection in 2021, 10 March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/42nb6n0; ‘Asylum statistics for 2020: A need for regular and transparent official information’, 12 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3TozS2d; ‘Asylum statistics for 2020 should be published and unpacked’, 15 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3JrPD3F.
  2. RSA, The Greek asylum procedure in figures: most asylum seekers continue to qualify for international protection in 2021, 10 March 2022, 10.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Reply to parliamentary question by KINAL, 156079/2023, 16 March 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3JIy0y6.
  5. RSA, Registration of asylum applications in the new mainland RIC in Greece, February 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3YX9fCI.
  6. L 4939/2022.
  7. Eurostat, migr_asyappctza.
  8. Council of State Plenary, No 177/2023, 3 February 2023. Βλ. RSA, ‘Key points of the Greek Council of State ruling on the “safe third country” concept’, 17 February 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3FB91KC.
  9. Eurostat, migr_asyaccm.
  10. Article 95(1) Asylum Code.
  11. Article 95(3) Asylum Code.
  12. RSA, Registration of asylum applications in the new mainland RIC, February 2023, 14.
  13. Article 95(1) Asylum Code.
  14. Due to persisting inconsistency in Asylum Code provisions, 1,790 of those were rejected as manifestly unfounded based on Article 102(3) of the Code and 28 as implicitly withdrawn based on Article 83(3) of the Code.
  15. See e.g. 19th Appeals Committee, No 761318/2022; 8th Appeals Committee, No 580691/2022; 7th Appeals Committee, No 56018/2022; No 15939/2022. Contrast 19th Appeals Committee, No 458446/2022; 3rd Appeals Committee, No 345521/2022; 4th Appeals Committee, No 301027/2022; 21st Appeals Committee, No 115975/2022, where an oral hearing was ordered.
  16. The Ministry of Migration and Asylum refers to 597 decisions where Article 91(5) Asylum Code was applied due to a lack of prospect of readmission to the third country.
Refugee women in the offside (Greece)

Refugee women in the offside

Greece encampment policy and services takeover lead to isolation and deny protection

Remote refugee camps, now dubbed “Controlled Access Centres”, are the only shelter option available to asylum seekers in Greece since the government closed down the “ESTIA II” decentralised accommodation program at the end of 2022. Placement in camps throughout the mainland is decided by the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) based on available capacity. Accepting such a placement is a precondition for receiving reception conditions during the asylum process under EU and domestic rules, including a monthly financial allowance.[1]

With Greece’s plan to transform all existing facilities into Closed Controlled Centres progressing, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum is proceeding with the takeover of services provided inside the camps. This has led to the gradual phasing out and departure of “Site Management Support” services formerly provided by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), reportedly completed by 20 March 2023[2]. Key services including hours-long transportation of camp residents to urban centres for medical appointments, asylum interviews or other purposes have been stopped altogether.[3]


Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) spoke to refugee women from Afghanistan who live in different camps in mainland Greece. They describe a life on the sidelines, cut off from Greek society and support structures based in urban centres. They feel alone, afraid, depressed and desperate. Most of them have only recently escaped their country and fled the Taliban regime, violence and life-threatening personal circumstances, but have not yet found the time or an appropriate environment to heal from terror.

They are single mothers, married or separated/divorced women. They have spent most of their time in Greece inside their containers, within the walls and fences of the refugee camps. They need specialised medical or psychological treatment and legal support. Meanwhile, delays in the registration of asylum claims or subsequent applications deprive them of financial support for months and leave them dependent on free food catering by the state to survive.

The women describe the financial and practical obstacles they face to leave the camps and reach services based in the cities, lack of information and orientation and undignified situations once using public transportation without tickets. The current decrease / end of services run until recently by IOM inside the camps has created further stress to them as they worry to face complete lack of support in matters of legal advice, psycho-social support, referrals or transportation from now on.

"I would like to go to Athens sometimes to search for language classes, find some humanitarian help and just see something else, but going there is expensive for people like us, who are in Greece for months now without any state help. We don't have the money to pay 8 Euros for the train. We have only been to Athens a few times in order to find a lawyer, but we had to go there without a ticket. When we were checked, I gave them whatever money I had in coins. I am always scared that I will be kicked out from the train. We haven't yet received our Cash-Card because we waited three months for the registration of our asylum application. For the Cash-Card of the last two months, we were told that we need to wait for our transfer to another camp. I am getting desperate because we stay inside the camp all the time and they just tell us to wait. Life is hard in this situation."

"I have been waiting for my registration for three months. During the last two months, we are not anymore permitted to leave the camp because we still have no documents. They told me last week that I wasn’t even allowed to go out for my asylum registration appointment. Now they told us that we would be registered inside this camp within the next 25 days. My children and myself feel worse since when we cannot go outside. Security checks everybody’s papers during entry and exit. My one child is the only one that can go outside, when the bus takes her to school.  We spend most of our time inside our container. I am scared to move around inside the camp, because of the many men. I feel scared even inside our container. The camp provides us a roof over our heads but it is not the place to heal and integrate."

"I feel like I am living in hell. I have been in Greece for three months now, but time feels like not passing. I am so stressed about my asylum interview, that will take place in a few days. I just feel desperate and afraid most of the time. I stay inside the container with the lights off. I have been in Athens only to visit my psychologist and my lawyer. I received the financial support last month for the first time. In the beginning I had no help. I had to take the train to visit my psychologist but I had no money for the ticket. I could register my asylum application after some weeks, and only after that I received the Cash-Card. In the meanwhile, IOM started helping me with my transfers to Athens. But now they told me that they have stopped working in the camp and they'll only come for urgent cases. That makes me more worried. I even lost my last appointment with the psychologist in Athens because the transportation services were cut and there are still no trains. I feel a lot of pressure and stress."

"I have been in Greece for four years. My asylum application was rejected twice, I have no valid documents and no money for four months. I am desperate. I am alone with my children. I tried to find help in order to get my new application registered faster, because we are in a very bad situation, but everywhere I went they told me it's not possible. The internet wasn't working and then, when it did, I got an appointment for after a long time. I have lost all hope. My psychological situation has got worse. I felt unseen, unheard and without help, until I found a lawyer to help me. I have no money to go to Athens, thus I go without a ticket since I have no choice and need legal help. When they check the tickets in the train I feel a lot of shame. Sometimes they understand our problems, because we say we live in the camp, and they accept us to give them 1 or 2 Euros, whatever we have. But sometimes they insist we should pay the full ticket price or else step out of the train. They even stopped the train once, but there was a nice Greek lady who gave me the money at the last moment. This was a very bad feeling."

"I go in the city of Athens and out of the camp only once a month since we arrived here. It's a one-hour drive and I must buy tickets for my children and myself. Since I rarely go out, I don't know any places in Athens and I get easily lost. In the beginning, when we still had no Cash-Card, I went once with the metro to a hospital and I got a 72 Euro fine for not holding a ticket. That was all the money I had at that point, but I paid it to avoid further troubles. I have various health problems, so I leave the camp mainly to go to doctors. In the camp there are no classes. I spend most of my time taking care of my two daughters, their school and hobbies. In Afghanistan they had no access to nothing. I want them now to have everything they wish for. It is not easy to live with a family in a small container inside a camp, but, to be honest, the important thing is we escaped the violence we suffered in Afghanistan."

"It took us five months to be able to register our asylum application. We had only a police paper, but it expired. My husband even got arrested once, when he tried to bring some food from Athens and was detained for a few days. We are without money until now, but still we had to pay to go to Malakasa for our registration. Until recently there was a free bus from the camp to Athens but it stopped functioning right before we had to go for our registration. In the camp they give us food, but it's sometimes barely edible. In the past, we used to go sometimes to Athens with that bus. In Athens we would find some humanitarian help from different organisations that provide us with small bags with food and hygiene items for free. It will take at least one more month until we get financial help from the government, that’s what we were told. We have to walk for one hour to take the public bus to Athens, and then pay 16 Euro per person to go and return. We don't have this money. So we just wait inside the camp. We don't go anywhere anymore."

“I arrived in Greece with my two sons, but one of them was returned back to Turkey. Our group was separated at the borders. I couldn’t do anything. We arrived in Athens and found ourselves without a place to sleep and with no news from my child. I am very worried and I cannot think clearly. After registering our asylum application, we waited in the Malakasa camp until they transferred us to Thiva. After that, I came to Athens only twice to meet my lawyer. There was a free bus twice a week until recently, but now they have stopped it. I asked my lawyers, how would we go to our asylum interview in Athens? We have to be there early in the morning and there is no bus. They told me that unfortunately the authorities have said you have to cover the transport cost yourself.”


  1. Residents of refugee camps that provide for catering receive 75 Euros per adult, 135 per couple or single headed family with one child, 160 for a three-person family and 210 for four headed or larger core families. See: https://help.unhcr.org/greece/living-in-greece/access-to-cash-assistance/ 

  2. See: https://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/67715b2c-ec81-4f0c-ad6a-476a34d732bd/12249704.pdf 

  3. Information provided by the Controlled Access Centre of Thiva, 8 March 2023.