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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.

The implementation of the toxic EU-Turkey deal in the past four years has resulted in endless misery for thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants trapped in the overcrowded and unsafe hotspots of the Eastern Aegean islands.  It has also boosted xenophobic and racist reactions in local societies that were initially welcoming to the plight of refugees.

These reactions have ranged from a large scale racist pogrom against Afghan asylum-seekers protesting for their prolonged stay on Lesvos in 2018 to a spate of attacks against asylum-seekers, human rights workers and journalists and the arson of a building belonging to an NGO in March 2020. Hate and xenophobic speech used by public officials fuels these incidents.

The plans of authorities to establish new facilities in the form of closed controlled centres for new arrivals were faced with strong protests by the local population on the islands of Lesvos and Chios in February 2020 and were marred by police violence.

Refugee Support Aegean monitors and documents such incidents and is a member of the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN).

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27 May: Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) completes registration on the NGO Registry 

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) completes registration on the NGO Registry  The Special Secretariat for Stakeholder Coordination at the Ministry of…

27 Jan: Asylum and the rule of law: Serious concerns persist in Greece

In its submission to the 2022 Rule of Law Report of the European Commission, RSA highlights developments and persisting concerns relating to the rule of law through the lens of the Greek asylum system.

18 Jan: Schengen reform: The European Commission dismantles even basic safeguards of the Common European Asylum System through unacceptable rule of law deviations

The European Commission tabled legislative proposals to amend the Schengen Borders Code and to address so-called “instrumentalisation” in migration and asylum, two months after 12 Member States, including Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, requested the “adaptation of EU law to new realities” and after the European Council called on the Commission to take legislative measures.

20 Dec: Greek NGO Registry and its implementation incompatible with international and EU law, according to ECRE expert opinion

An expert opinion by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) released today finds the Greek legal framework on the registration of NGOs working with refugees and migrants (Joint Ministerial Decision 10616/2020) “in clear violation” of standards of international law, EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

13 Dec: Ombudsman calls for re-examination of rejection of RSA’s registration on the NGO Registry

The Ombudsman calls the administration to re-examine the rejection of registration on the ground that it contravenes the “acquis of international, EU and national law”.

08 Dec: Joint statement by 19 organisations active on refugee issues in Greece

The undersigned non-governmental organisations were surprised to be informed that the Ministry of Migration and Asylum denied the registration of non-profit civil society organisation “Refugee Support Aegean” (RSA) on its NGO Registry, despite a positive opinion from competent services. We are particularly concerned by the substantive ground for such rejection, citing that the “development of activity” “in support of persons under deportation” is contrary to Greek legislation.

13 Oct: No room for complacency towards racist violence one year after the conviction of Golden Dawn

One year after the historic conviction of Golden Dawn, the Racist Violence Recording Network calls to mind the importance of the judicial decision that sent a clear message against the criminal organization and organized racist violence. In parallel, the Network warns that there is no room for complacency, as the modus operandi of organized violence continues to severely affect social cohesion.

26 Aug: Reject the unlawful Deportations Bill

The Deportations and Returns Bill tabled by the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum to Parliament on 25 August 2021 fully disregards the positions and concerns put forward by civil society and the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) regarding compliance with international and EU law on asylum and migration. Without any justification, the drafters of the bill omit over 60 comments tabled by experts in the public consultation, thereby circumventing a necessary institution to safeguard the rule of law and better law-making.

23 Aug: Practical and immediate solidarity with the Afghan refugees!

While the Greek government is sending contradictory messages about dealing with the humanitarian crisis caused by the return of the Taliban to power, thousands of Afghan refugees living in Greece are anxious for the fate of their relatives and themselves, as based on the Joint Ministerial Decision (JMD) issued in June they may be returned to Turkey as a safe third country with a risk of onward deportation to Afghanistan.

26 May: Registry of NGOs working with refugees and migrants in Greece under scrutiny

Risks of repression of civil society organisations supporting refugees and migrants in Greece have been heavily exacerbated by successive legislative reforms in 2020, introducing disproportionate and ambiguous requirements for registration on two Registries managed by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.

31 Aug: The Greek asylum system in 2020 – Key observations

RSA & Stiftung PRO ASYL Submission in the M.S.S. / Rahimi cases: https://bit.ly/3llZefv

21 Aug: The Greek asylum appeal procedure in the first half of 2020

Statistics provided by the Appeals Authority to Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)[1] give rise to important observations on the examination of…

01 Nov: The Administrative Arrangement between Greece and Germany

The Administrative Arrangement between Ministry of migration Policy of the Hellenic Republic and the Federal Ministry of Interior of the…

19 Jul: A PLACE OF SOLIDARITY AND DIGNIFIED LIVING AT RISK OF CLOSURE: #SAVEPIKPA

On 29 June, the Regional Governor of North Aegean announced a decision ordering the closure of PIKPA camp – a…

16 Jun: JOINT STATEMENT ON THE EXTRADITION CASE OF TURGUT KAYA

In Decision No. 912/2018, Greece’s Supreme Court 6th Section ruled in favour of the extradition of Turgut Kaya, a political…

18 May: Violence in Patras Port

Violence in Patras Port: Ill-treatment of refugees as deterrent to migration Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) fact-finding mission (27 to 28…

11 May: The Mitilini Declaration

Between 10-11 May 2018, the Last Rights Project held an historic meeting on Lesvos island, to discuss and agree a new declaration of rights for all…

08 May: LESBOS COURT RULING VINDICATES FIVE AID WORKERS – SAVING LIVES AT SEA IS NOT A CRIME

A Lesbos court yesterday acquitted three volunteer lifeguards of Spanish NGO PROEM-AID and two volunteer lifeguards from the NGO Team…

20 Mar: Stop The Toxic Deal NOW

In the framework of their campaign #StopTheToxicDeal RSA and PRO ASYL publish today their common statement against the toxic EU-Turkey…

09 Mar: #StopTheToxicDeal XENOPHOBIA

In the framework of their campaign #StopTheToxicDeal RSA and PRO ASYL publish today the second topic that concerns xenophobia #StopTheToxicDeal

20 Feb: Germany wilfully ignores Afghanistan not being a safe country

Despite the large number of civilian casualties in conflict ravaged Afghanistan, Germany and other European countries continue forcibly returning Afghan…

19 Feb: ESCAPE AGAIN: Afghan refugees deported from Germany are forced to flee a second time to save their lives

Afghan refugees deported from Germany are forced to flee again. Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) researchers met with four of the…

07 Dec: Refugee mothers without enough milk and diapers

Photo copyright: Salinia Stroux Dramatic shortages in both mainland and Greek islands force organizations and solidarity groups to search for…

29 Aug: Greek court rejects Turkey’s extradition request based on Interpol warrant

On August 23rd the Northern Aegean Appeal Council examined and rejected Turkey’s extradition request against A.M Turkish/British citizen. RSA lawyers…

15 Jun: Solidarity statement to Taner Kiliç

It has been 10 days since Turkish lawyer Taner Kiliç, President of Amnesty International Turkey, and well-known human rights defender,…

21 Apr: PRO ASYL and RSA demand the immediate release of Italian journalist Gabriele Del Grande

Gabriele Del Grande in 2010, when he received the Human Rights Price of Stiftung PRO ASYL. Photo: Gustavo Alabiso Del…