In light of the refugee crisis of 2015, established non-governmental organisations and groups and many civil society actors, from Greece and abroad, stepped in to provide humanitarian assistance and other needed support, including rescue at sea.
However, especially on the islands the climate towards NGOs and volunteers helping refugees has started turning progressively from welcoming to hostile due to the chronic extreme pressure imposed on the local societies after the EU-Turkey “deal” and the establishment of the hotspots.
In March 2020, the Greek Government proceeded with adopting new rules on the registration and certification of Greek and foreign NGOs active in the area of asylum, migration and social inclusion as well as their members staff and volunteers. These regulations include stringent, disproportionate and arbitrary requirements for registration and certification, which create risks of violations of the rights of civil society. The changes come against the backdrop of policy efforts appearing to create an increasingly hostile environment for civil society in Greece.