Reception Crisis in Greece: The malignancy of Attica’s refugee camps

With refugee arrivals in Greece increasing in 2018 and transfers from overcrowded island hotspots being an imperative, more and more refugees are in need of shelter in mainland Greece than those anticipated by Greek authorities. The refugee camps in the mainland are becoming once more overcrowded while reception conditions have a detrimental impact upon the physical and mental health of their residents. Tents are being set up once more to address the demands for additional shelter and those who cannot access such shelter end up in homeless. The situation brings back memories from 2015 and 2016 when the mainland camps were established to respond to the refugee crisis on the islands and the closure of the Balkans route. Camps, that have ceased to operate last year because of their substandard conditions, re-opened their gates this spring. Meanwhile, only three out of the 26 camps operating in the mainland have the required legal basis.

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) researchers talked to refugees residing in four camps in the regions of Attica and Voiotia. The interviewees – many of them very vulnerable – spoke of overcrowding, lack of privacy, security concerns, rain-flooded tents /exposure to heat, difficulties in accessing primary health care, hospital care and medicines and deficiencies in hygiene. Women including pregnant women or new mothers and their families reported of miscarriages, which they linked to the living conditions and fear about their safety. During the last four months, residents protested repeatedly against the reception conditions in three of the four camps.

The current substandard conditions in Greece’s mainland camps underline further the need for long-term dignified accommodation for refugees and asylum-seekers as well as that of immediate improvement of conditions in these camps. All these happen at a time when EU member states continue passing the responsibility of receiving new arrivals to states at EU’s external borders as well as countries such as Libya and Turkey. Meanwhile, a proposed deal on returns between Germany and Greece ignores the systemic deficiencies in Greece’ s reception system and their impact upon many vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers.

  1. THE GREEK RECEPTION CRISIS IN THE LIGHT OF EUROPEAN POLICIES

In light of the migration hard line policies pushed by Austria – current holder of the EU Presidency – and the outcome of June’s emergency migration summit[i], EU’s position towards refugee protection seems to move even further from the principles enshrined in the Geneva Convention[ii]. Meanwhile, few days before the summit, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed with a proposal by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the signature of a migration agreement that will further ease the returns of asylum seekers registered first in Greece.[iii] A similar deal was reached between Germany and Spain. While Italian and Hungarian governments already rejected similar proposals by Germany (as Seehofer’s ‘Migration Master Plan’ had foreseen[iv]), Greece appears to agree in broad terms with the German proposal. Despite the atmosphere of co-operation in these matters, details of the agreement – expected to be finalised this summer – remain unclear so far. What is known is that the Greek Minister for Migration Policy has agreed with Berlin to ‘process’ the take-back requests Germany sent this year (currently around 1,500). In return, Berlin has promised to accept and take persons in who have applied for family reunification with relatives living in Germany (the estimates vary between 950 and 2,900 pending or accepted applications).[v]

Already back on 15 March 2017, Germany along with other EU-Member States had resumed returns to Greece based on the Dublin III Regulation. Despite the approx. 3,900 take-back requests filed ever since, by the end of June Germany had not succeeded in actually returning more than seven asylum seekers[vi]. One of the requirements for returns – as stated by the German Ministry of Interior – is that Greece will provide individual assurances that a person transferred under the Regulation will be accommodated in accordance with the standards of the Reception Conditions Directive.[vii][viii] The German Ministry of Interior statement came few months after the European Commission’s Fourth Recommendation on the resumption of transfers to Greece that had suggested: a gradual resumption of transfers; for returnees to be treated according to EU law; and for vulnerable persons to remain excluded from returns.[ix]

By late 2017, things appeared to improve somewhat as more vulnerable refugees living in the mainland camps were moved to flats all over Greece’s cities as part of the ESTIA accommodation scheme run by the UNHCR. However, currently Greece is facing once more a reception crisis in the mainland along with that in the hotspots as arrivals started rising again in the beginning of 2018.[x] This increase in arrivals including through the Greece-Turkey land border[xi] allowed old malignancies of the reception system in the mainland reappear. In the meantime, an unknown number of people are being reportedly pushed-back or return back to Greece after facing worse conditions in countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and/or the FYROM where they had often been trapped for months unable to continue their journeys.

On this background, four of the once considered unsuitable camps were re-opened in spring and early summer 2018[xv] (Oinofyta on 26 March 2018; Elefsina on 13 April 2018) only a few months after their closure. Other camps were expanded. Tents and rub halls were set up once again in Malakasa camp (end of May/ beginning of June 2018). The Ministry’s plans also included the re-organisation of other existing camps such as Skaramangas and Koutsochero and the establishment of two more transit camps (each expected to accommodate 1,500 persons). The first camp was that of Vagiochori (Northern Greece) which was re-opened in June 2018.[xvi]

During research conducted between the end of June and end of July, RSA researchers interviewed 29 refugees who were living in Oinofyta, Elefsina, Malakasa sites, in front of Eleonas or were homeless.[xvii] Their testimonies give a disconcerting picture and illustrate the urgency for the Greek authorities to take more steps in order to improve conditions in these camps including by ensuring that they acquire the necessary legal status.

Considering Greece’s location as a EU-member state at the external borders, it is given that any time a new emergency situation can result from sudden increases of arrivals. While the Greek authorities cannot ignore this fact and remain unprepared, they also have to be supported by other EU states who must share the responsibility of receiving newly arrived protection seekers instead of passing it to Members States at the EU external borders or countries such as Libya and Turkey.

Arrivals of people escaping war and conflict are part of the current world reality and cannot be dealt with again and again as an ‘emergency’, ‘crisis’, or even worse as a ‘security problem’, a ‘threat’ or ‘danger’.

In this light, the recently announced increased co-operation between Germany and Greece for Dublin returns seems not to take into account the very fact that systemic deficiencies are persisting in the reception system in Greece and their impact upon many vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers.

  1. MAIN FINDINGS

2.1. CAMPS LACK A LEGAL BASIS

The Greek government never succeeded to move away from an emergency reception approach largely based on marginalised refugee camps where people stay without future prospects, although the European Commission has mobilised already over 1,5 billion euros of support for Greece for the management of the refugee crisis[xix]. Meanwhile, after more than two years of their opening, the majority of refugee camps in the mainland still lack a legal basis. From the 26 current open sites, only three are operating with the necessary prior Joint Decision by the competent Ministries of Economy and Migration Policy. These camps are Schisto (September 2015)[xx], Eleonas and Diavata (November 2016).[xxi] [xxii] At the same time, according to UNHCR still approx. 17,200 persons live in camps.[xxiii]

Consequently, there are no minimum standards applied in material conditions or services so that residents largely depend on state agencies such the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) and the Hellenic Center for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO), IGOs, as well as NGOs that may be present in the camps. The lack of legal framework also has the effect that most sites are operating without official site management but just with Site Management Support (SMS). This task has been largely divided among few major organisations such as the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC). The UNHCR has pulled back from site management services already since March 2017[xxiv]. Only a few months later, in August, the government stepped in to take more responsibilities inside the camps.

2.2. ACCESS TO ASYLUM A PREREQUISITE FOR ACCOMMODATION

“We are now 9 months in Greece. Upon arrival from the land border, we got arrested… The police issued deportation orders. … We came to Athens. In the beginning, we slept in Victoria square and parks. … For three months, we tried to get an appointment with the Asylum Service through Skype. Finally, we got access because my wife was pregnant. We applied for asylum on 21 December 2017… After that, we tried getting a cash card but everything takes months. We also applied for an apartment. … Until now, we wait for answers.”

A 30-year-old Afghan refugee. At the time of the interview, he had been staying with his wife and three children including a young baby in a tent in front of Eleonas camp.

 

Referral to camp accommodation, flats in the UNHCR urban accommodation scheme and the National Centre of Social Solidarity (EKKA) shelters require documentation such as registration of one’s asylum claim.

In June, RSA was informed for a vulnerable case it is supporting that the earliest appointments given by Greek Asylum Office (GAS) of Piraeus for such cases at that point was after two months. RSA researchers also spoke with irregular refugees from Afghanistan and Eritrea without vulnerability and without legal aid, who had been trying for eight months to access the asylum procedure through Skype.[xxv] The result of all these developments is an increase in the number of homeless refugees, as most have to wait for weeks or sometimes even months to access the asylum system.

2.3. ABSENCE OF OFFICIAL MECHANISM MANAGING REFERRAL TO CAMPS

Another cause of concern is the absence of an official mechanism managing the referral for accommodation to these camps. In February, unofficial responsibilities for such management seem to have shifted away from the Central Operational Body for Migration (KEPOM), which was implementing the transfers from the islands with the help of the UNHCR (until June 2018), to the Reception and Identification Service (RIS). UNHCR will continue implementing the logistical aspects of the transfers until September of this year.[xxvi]

In addition, in practice no mechanism is in operation to oversee reception conditions and to “ensure that appropriate guidance, monitoring and control of the level of reception conditions” are given as envisaged by the Reception Conditions Directive[xxvii] despite responsibilities with the authorities to ensure this.

2.4. ASYLUM-SEEKERS LIVING IN LESS SECURE ACCOMODATION AND IN FEAR

“It is very difficult to be pregnant here. …We are all from Iraq and Syria; we all escape war. There is a lot of fighting even between us. The camp is in an industrial area of the port. It smells of petrol all day. There are many pregnant women in the camp and many have had miscarriages. We are far away from everything. We are also far from the hospital. The doctor visits only during the morning hours and there is no female doctor. Every day there are just three busses to Athens. We are left alone with our problems and we don’t feel safe at all. … I never sleep well. Sometimes I cannot sleep at all. I cry a lot. … In this camp, we just wait for someone to come and help us. We really suffer from the fact, that we are not safe: not safe from other people, not safe from the conditions. We are afraid of tomorrow.”

A 9 months pregnant refugee from Iraq living in Elefsina camp.

 

Apart from the worrying reception conditions, the new developments have created a category of residents within the existing sites. These are new arrivals from the islands who end up sleeping in less secure accommodation (tents) and receive less cash assistance than the persons residing in the containers because they are given food from catering services (i.e. Malakasa camp). Other new arrivals are housed in inadequate camp buildings such as Elefsina or Oinofyta. Arrivals from the land border that have not been yet able to register their asylum claims are in the most precarious of situations as they are sometimes tolerated and allowed to sleep in front or inside camps and also lack any access to aid such as the Cash-Card and food. The precarious living conditions increase the feeling of a lack of privacy and security among residents and negatively impact their (mental) health.

2.5. RECEPTION CONDITIONS

2.5.1. ELEONAS

“My mother is 60 years old. We arrived two months ago from the Greece-Turkey land border. We came to Athens and slept in Victoria square and in Alexandra park (Areos park). No organization helped us to find a shelter. They said we needed the asylum seekers’ card first. … During the night, my mother cries. She cannot sleep.”

A 23-year-old Afghan refugee. At the time of the interview, she had been staying in a tent in front of Eleonas camp with her mentally sick mother and two brothers.

Eleonas was the first official open reception centre for asylum-seekers in Greece and was opened by the Greek government in the mainland to answer the shelter crisis in the early summer of 2015. It is managed by the First Reception and Identification Service of the Ministry for Migration Policy.[xxviii]

Families living in tents in front of Eleonas camp ©private

With 1,519 residents as of 30 May 2018 it had reached its reported official capacity.[xxix] Residents come mainly from Afghanistan (40%) and Syria (27%) and 58% are women and children. The camp consists of 285 prefabricated houses. It is located in an industrial area but near to the urban metro station Eleonas and thus is well connected to the centre of Athens. It is also one of the sites with a high presence of actors including international organizations and non-governmental organizations providing their services.

Between March and July 2018, RSA researchers spoke to several refugees who had recently arrived in Greece from the land border. They spoke about their plans to find shelter in one of the camps in the mainland or their unsuccessful attempts to find such shelter. In the beginning of July, RSA met with four Afghan families camping in front of Eleonas camp and requesting shelter. None of them managed to access shelter inside the camp. Two families were finally housed by activist and volunteer groups. The two others later found a place in Malakasa camp. 

2.5.2. OINOFYTA

“I feel like being homeless since I am in this camp. They give me pills to sleep, which are so strong… but I still cannot sleep. They just keep me alive. On the island, I had started to forget the bad memories about being in prison and what happened to me there. Here, I begin to remember again. I see nightmares as soon as I close my eyes. Everything is bad here. I am sick, but I have to stand in the line for everything. There is noise everywhere. I am thinking sometimes that I want to die. If something happens to me, I will not go to the hospital, because I don’t have the money to come back.”

 A 33-year-old Iraqi refugee, victim of torture

 

As of 20 June, Oinofyta Voiotias had 397 residents. It was near to capacity limit (capacity 424).[xxx]  Provision of services is managed by IOM, while the Greek Air Force has the responsibility for the site management. IOM is daily providing for the available services until the early afternoon hours. Later only security is present and is guarding the gates 24 hours a day. In cases of emergency, residents have to seek their help in any language possible.

Residents come mainly from Syria (62%), Afghanistan (22%) and Iraq (9%) but there are also some people from African countries.[xxxi] Women and kids make up for 53% of the residents. The camps residents are refugees, who have been transferred to the camp from the islands, from other camps, Patras or arrived from the land border to Turkey or as returns from FYROM and Serbia. There are asylum-seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. Specifically, among transfers from the islands, there are many vulnerable individuals such as pregnant women, families with small kids and victims of torture. Unregistered newcomers who arrive and stay unofficially in the camp try to register their asylum claims and then become official residents.

While the residents who got transferred by the authorities from the islands or other camps, get regularly transferred into flats, the persons who sought themselves shelter in the camp, and specifically the single men and beneficiaries of international protection remain there without any future prospects of adequate shelter.[xxxii]

There are no common spaces for recreational or educational activities other than a football ground and children do not have access to non-formal or formal education.[xxxiii] Residents either seek company and help in the nearby community centre run by the small NGO Do Your Part – which until the end of 2017 was running the whole camp – or have to move to Athens to access services of other organisations.

Oinofyta was closed in November 2017 and its residents were moved to apartments and other camps. It was re-opened in 26 March 2018 to house people who had recently arrived in Greece from the land border or the islands. Ever since, it is reportedly running with fewer services and seemingly lower standards to those existing before its’ closure.[xxxiv]

Women, men and kids feel unsafe everywhere in the camp ©private

The former industrial building, which had once been a warehouse is located 58km north of Athens and close to an airfield. According to the residents, it is providing shelter on two distinct floors with compartmented rooms. Families have their own rooms, which can be locked, but those interviewed said that they find it difficult to rest because of the noise by other residents that can be heard everywhere. Also, many of the rooms reportedly have no natural light as they lack windows. Single men said that they share rooms and speak of lack of privacy because of the accommodation arrangements, people passing by permanently and doors that cannot be locked. Toilettes and showers are separated in male and female and are shared. Residents tell that despite the existence of a cleaner, they are voluntarily participating in the cleaning of common spaces to resolve the poor hygiene, while they have actual responsibility just for their own rooms.

One of the main problems is the difficult transportation to the city of Athens. The nearest bus costs 4 Euro one-way and the bus station is a 30-minute walk from the camp. The distance becomes a major obstacle especially for the sick when people have to go to hospital in Chalkida or Athens. The distance to the hospitals is a major obstacle and refugees report severe delays in the ambulance service. Some refugees told us that after the transfer by an ambulance to the hospital they would not be able to afford to return with the taxi (40-60 Euros). There is insufficient psychosocial support, and not sufficient access to on-site health care as KEELPNO[xxxv] doctors visit only three times a week in the morning hours, according to the residents.[xxxvi]

They also described food as of low quality. At the time of the interviews conducted, catering was obligatory, as long as still no kitchen facilities were available to a resident. As a result, residents received the 90 Euro Cash Card instead of the 150 euro.[xxxvii] All of the refugees interviewed by RSA said that they have higher expenses than income since they had to spend money on transport, additional food, pampers and medicines. Residents also describe tensions among the communities and sometimes fights. They report that for some smaller communities, access to services such as food is not equal as the ones belonging to a larger group.

Finally, there is no legal aid provided to the residents, who are forced to travel to Athens when in need of legal assistance when they have urgent questions on family reunification or their asylum claim.

Residents of Oinofyta protested repeatedly in 27 March, 29 May and 19 of June 2018 against the reception conditions and demanding the immediate transfer of the refugees to houses, beginning with the most vulnerable.[xxxviii]

During the date of the publication of this report, some vulnerable families had been transferred to flats, while others still remained in the camp. Additionally, some Kurdish families who had been placed in tents in Malakasa camp, got transferred to Oinofyta. At the same time, tents were set up next to the building to house more newcomers from the islands.

Recently, tents were set up also in Oinofyta for new arrivals ©private

2.5.3. ELEFSINA

Our biggest worry is the deteriorating health of our eldest son. He needs treatment now, but doctor appointments are set late and we are far from the hospitals not knowing how to go and how to speak with the nurses and doctors. … our son gets worse day by day. When the bombing started back home, our house got hit. He got injured. Until now he has splinters in his head. At times half of his body gets paralysed. He does not have enough oxygen in his brain. He has become disabled and he suffers also from mental health problems. The only thing I do every day is to sit outside the camp in the smell of the petrol and cry. I think about our past. Six years of war. I think about where we are now without even our health secured. I wonder if we will (ever) have a future.”

 A 40-year-old refugee woman from Kobani who has a congenital disorder. She lives in Elefsina camp with her sick husband and three children. One of the children suffers from a complex medical condition.

 

Elefsina (Merchant Marine Academy) is approx. 32 km far from Athens. By 11 June 2018 it hosted 227 persons[xxxix] (capacity 300).[xl] 46% of the residents are children. The site is run by IOM, and is under responsibility of the Hellenic Army and the Ministry of Migration Policy (MoMP). Employees of IOM visit the camp daily in the morning hours. In the afternoon, there is nobody present apart from the security guarding the gate.

Residents come mainly from Syria (87%) and Iraq (10%). During the research, there are 11 Kurdish families while the rest are Arab speakers. They are in the majority of cases highly vulnerable people, among them disabled and pregnant women.[xli] Usually, they stay in the camp for a maximum of three months before they are transferred to apartments or other forms of housing.

Elefsina first opened in June 2016[xlii] and was closed in October 2017. It reopened on 13 April 2018 to address the problems of overcrowding in Lesvos hotspot and when more than 200 refugees were transferred from the island to this camp. The refugees protested and denied to stay, since they had been reportedly promised to move to flats in Athens directly.[xliii] The camp is allegedly intended to be used only as short-stay accommodation. During the date of the publication of the report, the most vulnerable residents were brought in flats and hotels, while the authorities were allegedly trying to prepare the material conditions for longer accommodation amongst others by installing air conditioning and trying to separate the rooms into smaller living sections. Meanwhile, some residents were allegedly already more than 3-4 months there.

Rooms are separated just by blankets into family sections ©private

The camp is located near the port of Elefsina, which is at the same time one of the biggest graveyards of ships in Greece. It is about 32km far from the centre of Athens. The industrial area is near the highway and is ruled by a strong smell of petrol. The two-floor building is divided in 11 rooms located in the first floor. Each room is shared between 3-6 families. The residents we talked described that they divided the big rooms in small sections by separating the area each family live with blankets provided by the UN. Women in advance pregnancy, people with mental health problems and families with small kids with highly infectious skin conditions are forced to live in the overcrowded camp next to each other. There is reportedly only one fridge per room. The rooms as described by residents consist of bunk beds and sometimes they also may have a table. Mattresses and blankets are filthy. Toilettes and showers are separated in male and female sections and are shared.

The main problems described by residents are the lack of safety especially for women and children, lack of privacy, permanent noise and light, lack of fresh air due to the smoke of cigarettes and cooking inside the rooms, and difficulties accessing Athens hospitals. The later concern affects all residents and especially the most vulnerable such as pregnant women, the elderly and those suffering from serious medical conditions. There is reportedly only one doctor visiting the site during the week in the morning hours, but each day the visiting doctor has a different medical specialty. There is no social worker and no psychologist visiting.

Residents feel abandoned by the authorities and threatened by their own neighbours. Additionally, they mention the occurrence of many miscarriages among the female refugees, which they attribute to the pollution near the site. The refugees interviewed also said that there has never been a gynaecologist visiting the camp despite the high number of pregnant refugees living there. Fights occur often over simple things such as the shared usage of fridges, the newly installed washing machines, the light and noise. The refugees expressed a strong feeling of fear in connection to differences between the communities of Kurds and Arabs, which is reportedly directly attached to the fights in Moria that took place on 25 May.[xliv] They also mentioned the lack of legal aid and educational and recreational activities for the many kids as gaps but secondary to the rest of problems. The very poor reception conditions have pushed residents to protest repeatedly since its’ re-opening, demanding their transfer to proper housing.[xlv]

2.5.4. MALAKASA

“The biggest problem in our tent is that we suffer from heat during the day and we will suffer humidity and be wet and cold when it rains. … We are completely unprotected. Both of my kids are coughing now. I want to be somewhere safe. I want a home. On the island, we were dreaming to be transferred to a house. My baby is now three months old and has spent most of its life in tents. … At night, I am afraid to go out of the tent. If I have to use the toilet I go full of fear. One time we saw a snake in our tent. … The inside of the tents is actually the outside. … We applied for asylum and they gave us an appointment for our interview in May 2020. I just want us to forget the blood and the war. I want my family to sleep on our own pillows again safe and in peace.”

 A 22-year-old refugee from Afrin. She fled her country when she was 6 months pregnant with her husband and their 1-year-old child. Four days before they crossed the Aegean in a small dinghy, she gave birth.

 

As of 20 June, Malakasa temporary accommodation site was hosting 1,110 persons and was near full capacity (1,098).[xlvi] IOM manages the services while the Greek Army is the authority responsible for site management. The gates are guarded by security. During the day IOM is present together together with other organizations providing different services.

Residents come mainly from Afghanistan (52%), Syria (24%), Iraq (15%) and Iran (6%). Among the newcomers living in tents are mainly Kurdish from Afrin and Arabic people also mainly from Syria. There are many families but also single men. Children consist of 34% of the camp’s residents while male refugees have a specifically high presence with 50%. People hosted in Malakasa include mainly asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection as well as a few newcomers who could not yet register their asylum claims and are unofficially in the camp. The residents come from the Greece-Turkey land border, from the island hotspots and until recently also from Patras after single men had been arrested during police raids near the port.

Malakasa first opened on 11 March 2016. Originally, the camp was reportedly built to host around 1,000 refugees but its capacity got successively reduced within the two years of its operation. On 2 December 2016, prefabs started replacing tents.[xlvii] Tents were first set up once more at the end of May 2018 and by the third week of June, nearly 200 of its residents lived in tents. During the research period, refugees interviewed reported that they stayed in UN family tents, while some had moved there into the two newly set up rub halls.[xlviii] Gradually, until the publication of this report, the UN-tents were set down and the newcomers RSA had met moved all into the rub-halls. The Kurdish refugees who had been staying in tents and rub-halls got successively transferred to Oinofyta camp where they were promised to stay just until flats can be found for them. Today, tents have been set up again reportedly and new groups of asylum seekers got transferred from the islands to Malakasa.

Malakasa is also meant to be a temporary accommodation site. It used to be an army camp. It is located exactly aside to an active army camp, separated only by a fence from the armed soldiers next door, and is 40km far from Athens. The main problem reported is the provisory housing of the newcomers in tents and the bad living conditions for those hosted there. Answering the emergencies in Lesvos but also in Patras, the site – similar to Skaramangas – has become overcrowded, while a year ago the authorities considered its closure. According to the testimonies received, security is also a serious issue as there are many single men who fight and get drunk and specifically women feel unsafe.

Provisory tents flooded by strong rainfalls in June ©private

According to reports, one woman recently gave birth in a tent while there were more than a dozen pregnant ladies transferred from the islands. Most of the newcomers transferred from the islands have some sort of vulnerability. Some of the residents, who came from Moria in last three months, had lived in the hotspot for over a year. Newcomers living in tents have a food catering and thus receive a lower allowance of 90 Euros per month. The others get 150 euros per person as their prefabs have kitchen facilities. In the tents, residents are exposed to the weather conditions, such as heavy rainfalls in June but also the summer heat. There is no electricity in the tents. People living there feel unprotected. There is a lack of sufficient toilets and showers in general but also in specific for the newcomers. The living conditions in tents and rub halls specifically leave no privacy and don’t offer protection and endanger especially the vulnerable living by affecting their health. Additionally, there is no legal aid.

Homeless refugees arrive frequently in front of the gates of the camp and ask for a shelter. RSA interviewed some refugees who said that due to lack of a place they had been sleeping unofficially in a common space used as mosque inside the camp – in some cases for weeks and in others already for 6-7 months. Since the interviews, two families among them had been reportedly transferred into prefabs as soon as they managed to register their asylum claim. Whereas the few single men were still sleeping there.

Medical assistance in the camp is being provided by KEELPNO. Those interviewed said such assistance was insufficient and particularly expressed concerns about the lack of a gynaecologist despite the fact that there were more than 30 pregnant women living in the camp and 15 newborns as of end of June 2018.[xlix] Medication is not covered in all cases and refugees spend from their own little allowances to cover their medical expenses.

During protests carried out by the newcomers in spring 2018, the gates got closed for the employees for a few days. The refugees demanded proper housing. When Ministry for Migration Policy employees visited the protestors, they reportedly promised transfers to flats and the situation calmed down.

 

  1. ANNEX

3.1. Eleonas

This family stayed more than 11 days homeless in front of Eleonas camp ©private

Hassan Ghulami*(30)[l] is an Afghan refugee who arrived in Greece with his wife and three children nine months ago. Their youngest was born in Greece two months ago. He said to RSA that after he completed his studies, he worked as a translator in various human rights organizations in his country. The small family spent many weeks homeless in the streets of Athens despite the pregnancy of Hassan’s wife and their young kids (aged 5 and 9 years). Only after giving birth, some people hosted them for a few weeks, but they have yet to find a place to stay in official accommodation until today, despite the fact that they have applied for asylum and with the newborn are vulnerable. They went to different camps in Attica but could not find shelter. They also went to different NGOs to apply for housing. “We are now 9 months in Greece. Upon arrival from the land border, we got arrested… The police issued deportation orders. … We came to Athens. In the beginning, we slept in Victoria square and parks. … For three months, we tried to get an appointment with the Asylum Service through Skype. Finally, we got access because my wife was pregnant. We applied for asylum on 21 December 2017… After that, we tried getting a cash card but everything takes months. We also applied for an apartment. … Until now, we wait for answers.” RSA-researchers met with the family on 1st July 2018 outside Eleonas camp. They had been there for 11 days, staying at a tent outside the camp’s gate. With them were five more Afghan families who are also homeless. Hassan described the family’s desperate situation: “Some organizations give us biscuits, bread and pampers. Also, some families living inside the camp bring us food. We don’t have any money left. My wife has to eat so she could breastfeed. There is no toilet, no shower we can use. When it rains they let us go inside the camp for a while, but then they tell us to go out again. The women and children are sleeping inside the tents; the men outside. We are really tired. Our kids ask us every day when we will have a home to stay and be safe.”[li]

Fatima Shafiqi* (23)[lii] arrived in Greece with her elderly mother and two brothers – one is a minor aged 15 years. She told us: “My mother is 60 years old. We arrived two months ago from the Greece-Turkey land border. My brother now suffers from a problem in his leg caused in their crossing of borders and needs an operation. We were arrested and detained in Thessaloniki for two days. Then we got a paper[liii]. We came to Athens and slept in Victoria square and in Alexandra park (Areos park). No organization helped us to find a shelter. They said we needed the asylum seekers’ card first. Then we applied for asylum in Pireaus Asylum Service. We managed because we had medical certificates. But we still have no shelter and we have no cash card. We run out of money. During the night, my mother cries. She cannot sleep. She has mental health problems.”[liv]

Jansina Rezai* (25)[lv] is with his 7 months pregnant wife and two kids aged 6 and 4 years in Athens. They originally arrived from the Greek-Turkish land border and were arrested and detained for few days in Thessaloniki. “We came to Athens and applied via Skype for asylum on 11 June. We just got access due to our medical problems. Our interview will be in spring 2019. We first slept in a tent in Victoria square, then in a refugee squat and … we have been for nearly two weeks here outside of Eleonas camp. They told us we could not stay here. There was no place (for us to stay). We just came back from hospital. The doctor said my wife has to rest because of the pregnancy.”[lvi]

Fereshta Hosseini* (23)[lvii] and her husband and two kids aged 5 and 7 years, were deported 16 months ago from Austria to Bulgaria due to Dublin III Regulation and their finger prints. They took the decision to come to Greece in the end of 2017, as conditions in Bulgaria were deteriorating. Fereshta described to us the family’s desperate situation: “I have mental health problems. We have been trying for 7 months to receive the cash card but they don’t give it to us yet as we first lacked papers and still have no shelter (respecticely also no address). We applied for asylum in April 2018 and our interview has been scheduled for early 2019. In the beginning, we stayed in a self-organized refugee squat but there were many fights among residents. Then we stayed in a friend’s place. They could not host us longer, so we ended up homeless, (in a tent) in front of this camp.”[lviii]

3.2. Oinofyta

Some refugees reside already more than four months in Oinfyta ©private

Suleiman Akrawi* (32) and his wife Pelin* (18)[lix] are from Afrin in Syria. They arrived in February 2018 on Samos Island. The young woman had already three miscarriages one in Oinofyta. Their asylum interview has been scheduled for January 2020. They were desperate. They told us: “We were a month on Samos, when my wife had another miscarriage. Upon arrival, they placed us in a tent to sleep. The second day I paid somebody to get his container. I could not let my wife live in such conditions. We applied for asylum and stayed 2 ½ months on the island. The UN told us we would be transferred to this camp for a few days until we will be send in a flat. Ever since, we arrived to Oinofyta, we are sitting in our little room waiting for a call from the UN to tell us whether we have a home. We receive 180 euros per month together. We have to pay the bus tickets to the doctor, medical tests, medicines and something small to eat, which won’t make us sick. People who cannot afford to buy some additional food, and are forced to eat what we get served have stomach problems. There are many mosquitoes. We can get sick easily one from the other, because we are many people in a small place. I feel that I would go crazy sometimes. I get angry without reason. We were not refugees. Life made us refugees. Now it is just the two of us. We don’t know if our families in Afrin are still alive. We lived six years through a war.”[lx]

Mohammed Omer* (33)[lxi] is a refugee from Iraq who arrived initially on Lesvos and was then transferred to Oinofyta camp as a person recognized as vulnerable by the Reception and Identification Service. At the time of our interview, he had been living there for two and half months. He is a victim of torture in his country. He suffers from mental and physical health problems and said to us that he felt suicidal. He met with a psychologist only a few days before he gave an interview to RSA researchers. The delay in his appointment was the result of due to long waiting times in the Greek public health system. Parts of his family with whom he had arrived together to Greece, are still on Lesvos as they did not have their geographic restriction lifted. The rest of his family is in Germany. His asylum claim was accepted and he has been granted international protection status by the Greek Asylum Service. Mohammed told us: “I stayed for 6 months on Lesvos Island. Most of the time I stayed in Kara Tepe camp[lxii]. The UN brought me here. They said they would send me soon to a house. It is really bad in Oinofyta camp for me. I felt better when I was with my family. I feel like being homeless since I am in this camp. They give me pills to sleep, which are so strong… but I still cannot sleep. They just keep me alive. On the island, I had started to forget the bad memories about being in prison and what happened to me there. Here, I begin to remember again. I see nightmares as soon as I close my eyes. Everything is bad here. I am sick, but I have to stand in the line for everything. There is noise everywhere. I am thinking sometimes that I want to die. If something happens to me, I will not go to the hospital, because I don’t have the money to come back.”[lxiii]

Ahsti Salih* (23)[lxiv] is from Afrin, Syria and she was three months pregnant when she spoke to RSA. She lives in Oinofyta camp with her husband and their 3-year-old boy. At the time of the interview, the family had been living in the camp 2 ½ months. The family arrived in Greece few months ago from the Greece-Turkey land border. Initially, they were homeless in Athens. After trying to find a shelter in Eleonas camp and elsewhere, they held together with others a protest in Syndagma Square[lxv] and ended up in Oinofyta camp with the promise to be transferred to a flat soon. Due to her pregnancy, they could get access and apply for asylum faster as her vulnerability was considered. “I am very worried about my health. When we arrived in Oinofyta camp I started having pains on my belly. The doctor said I have to stay in a proper house and gave me medicines. We live in a room without a window. There are just walls. We hear all the noises the other residents make as if we were sharing one big room. We receive a cash card for 90 Euros per adult, plus 50 Euro for our kid. We are forced to eat the food of the catering. The bread they bring us is scruffy. We get sick if we eat it. I suffer in this camp. We women clean the toilets ourselves. I just see them clean before a UN visit. Once I fell while cleaning and hurt myself. If something happens, the nearest hospital is in Chalkida. It is difficult to go there and come back. The ambulance usually arrives after hours. … We could possibly die until it comes. To come back, we have to take a taxi, which costs 40-50 euros. We cannot afford this. It is more than one hour with public transportation of which 30 minutes are walking, and half an hour with the taxi. In total, we get 230 euros per month for my family and we have to cover from that transport, milk, pampers, medicines. We have nothing in Greece and we have nothing left in Afrin,” she ends. Ahsti’s husband is worried about his family: “We don’t feel safe here. People are stressed. There are tensions between the residents. I have to accompany my wife to the shower and toilet. I cannot leave her alone.”[lxvi]

3.3. Elefsina

Inside Oinofyta camp ©private

Delal Sheikho* (29)[lxvii] escaped Iraq with her husband and with her two kids aged 2 and 7. At the time of her interview with RSA, she was 39 weeks pregnant and was going to give birth any time. During the family’s seven-month stay in Greece, they applied for asylum and got transferred from Moria camp on Lesvos to Athens. “We stayed in a tent in Moria for three months. For the past two months, we have been staying in Elefsina camp and we are waiting for the answer on our asylum claim. They told us we would be sent in a flat but since more than one month nobody got transferred. I get very tired in Elefsina and every day it gets worse. It is very difficult to be pregnant here. We are only 11 Kurdish families but the majority of people are Arab people. We are all from Iraq and Syria; we all escape war. There is a lot of fighting even between us. The camp is in an industrial area of the port. It smells of petrol all day. There are many pregnant women in the camp and many have had miscarriages. We are far away from everything. We are also far from the hospital. The doctor visits only during the morning hours and there is no female doctor. Every day there are just three busses to Athens. We have to pay about 5 euros to take a taxi to the bus station. It is more than one hour to reach the centre. I am suffering from a form of anemia. This makes my pregnancy risky. …. We are left alone with our problems and we don’t feel safe at all. The camp we live in is split in 11 rooms, and 3-6 families live together in each of them. Some rooms have a view on the sea, the others not. We have separated the rooms by the beds and grey blankets in something like sections. There is noise all the time. Some people play loud music in the night. The lights are never turned off. People smoke and cook in the rooms. We fight about small things like the one fridge in our room or the new laundries. There are seven toilets for us women but only three work. I never sleep well. Sometimes I cannot sleep at all. I cry a lot. We are forced to eat the food from the catering, but we cannot. We get just 90 euro per adult and 50 per kid. There is sewage water in the yard and a lot of mosquitoes. There is no air conditioning in our rooms. It is getting hot a lot. The only functioning air conditioning unit is in the big room, which is used just by the men. This is also the only place with wifi. In this camp we just wait for someone to come and help us. We really suffer from the fact, that we are not safe: not safe from other people, not safe from the conditions. We are afraid of tomorrow.”[lxviii]

Hannah Alibrahim* (25)[lxix] lives in Elefsina with her husband, 5 children and other extended family. With them is also a pregnant lady in the 9th month. They escaped Deir Ezzor in Syria. The family lived for about 5 months in Moria camp on Lesvos island. They applied for asylum and their interview has been scheduled for March 2020. During our interview, Hannah told us that all families in the camp came from Moria camp. She is not comfortable in the camp and she suffered a miscarriage. “I was two months pregnant when I lost the child. After that, I was still bleeding for two days. Only then I got transferred to a hospital. Now there are another 10 women in my camp, who had miscarriages. Before there used to be another five. Everybody here has health problems, but we are in the most improper place to get medical help. Our family is living in a room, we share with five more families. We have no access to a window and fresh air. We just have our beds and a table. There are five showers of which one is broken and some doors of the toilets are also broken and cannot be locked. We women guard each other when we use them. Some of our kids have a highly infectious skin disease (Impetigo). The doctor gave us antibiotics to treat it, but we do not have sufficient cloths and blankets to change and we cannot wash them all the time. The laundries just got installed. We cannot do anything to avoid others getting infected.”[lxx]

Dila* (40) and Rivin Azadi* (47)[lxxi] fled to Greece with their three sons aged 12, 17 and 18. They escaped from Kobane in Syria and applied for asylum in Greece. Their asylum interview has been scheduled for March 2020. After two months living in small tents in Moria camp, they got transferred to Elefsina camp. At the time of the interview, they had been living in the camp for two months. Apart from the two younger boys, the rest of the family suffers diverse neurological problems that according to the family need further examination and treatment by different specialists. Dila who has a form of microsomia and other health problems said: “Our biggest worry is the deteriorating health of our eldest son. He needs treatment now, but doctor appointments are set late and we are far from the hospitals not knowing how to go and how to speak with the nurses and doctors. I have a broken back. I need an operation. I suffer from anemia and liver problems and neuropathy. They took me just once to the hospital when I was bleeding. Also, my husband has asthma and heart problems since we were in Moria. His hand has some kind of disability. But our son gets worse day by day. When the bombing started back home, our house got hit. He got injured. Until now he has splinters in his head. At times half of his body gets paralysed. He does not have enough oxygen in his brain. He has become disabled and he suffers also from mental health problems. The only thing I do every day is to sit outside the camp in the smell of the petrol and cry. I think about our past. Six years of war. I think about where we are now without even our health secured. I wonder if we will (ever) have a future.” Her husband doesn’t want to remember Moria nor can he think of Elefsina as he feels just fear. “I get sick when we were there (in Moria) and after the big fight[lxxii]. Also in Elefsina we don’t feel safe at all. We are even scared to talk. Who will help us if we get attacked? During the night there is a lot of trouble. I cannot breathe. One of our sons got beaten in the first night. We cannot sleep. We cannot eat from fear. We start to forget simple things. I escaped death 15 times in Syria, now I feel my family (is) in danger. Once people from the government came to the camp. One person said, if we could not stay here, we should go back to Syria. No human being should be in this situation. Nobody takes responsibility of us.”[lxxiii]

3.4. Malakasa

Tents broke after rainfalls while people were sleeping inside ©private

Jowan Tabash*(27)[lxxiv] a tailor from Afrin arrived first on Lesvos with his wife, mother and two kids aged 2 and 4 years. At the time of their interview, they had been staying in a UN-tent in Malakasa for a month. In the last week of June it was raining every day. Most of the kids living in the tents had no dry clothes to wear anymore. Jowan told RSA: “We are 25 families from Afrin and 6 from Kobani, that got transferred here from Moria one week after the fights. There are also 6 Arabic families from Syria living in the tents on the other side of the camp. We were two months in Moria. In May we applied for asylum. Our interview will be exactly two years later, in May 2020. When I heard that, I thought there is no hope. I was a soldier for three years and I ran away from war because I didn’t want to kill and I wanted my family to live in peace. Our relatives have been spread over Greece, Turkey, Sweden and Norway. We got sent here, because of our health problems. I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and my big son has mental health problems ever since he survived a bomb explosion (back home). In Moria we spent one month in a tent. Here also we are one month in a tent. I am sick. It is four years since I need once monthly an injection. The medicine needs to be in the fridge, but there is none here. It costs each month 100 euros. Meanwhile I get 90 euro monthly. My wife, kids and me, we get 280 euros. Out of that money we also have to buy food for our kids. They cannot eat the food of the catering here. All kids eating the army food have stomach problems. The doctors here in the camp are not here all the time. When it rained, they didn’t come. Now the ambulance comes more often than the doctors, it seems. There are no interpreters… Meanwhile, my big son is under shock since he survived a bomb attack in Syria. My brother saved his life with his own body and got severely injured in doing so. From that day, my son cannot speak or play like other kids. He cannot sleep without feeling our hands on his little body. He has special problems now and he needs special care. Here even we adults do not feel safe. Nobody takes care of us. I cannot sleep. I have to accompany my wife and kids to the toilet and shower. These days, we are exposed also to the weather. It has rained very badly last week. We had to wake up in the middle of the night and try to fix the ground of the tents with earth so that less water would enter. The whole tents got wet on the floor. My mother is old. She is coughing now. The kids got cold. I am also suffering from this humidity. My body is swollen now. I can’t move fingers and legs easily. My pain got stronger but I cannot show it to my family. I don’t want to make them more sad. Many times, the fathers of the families do not sleep in the nights to watch over the families and the tents. There is only one shower for all the people in the tents and one cannot lock the door. There is not enough hot water. There are 6 toilets for around 300 people in tents (as of end of June 2018). …. In the tents, many dangers lurk. We killed two snakes since we are here.”[lxxv]

Zeynab Mamle* (22)[lxxvi] is also from Afrin. She escaped Syria when she was 6-months pregnant with her husband and their 1-year-old child. Four days before they crossed the Aegean Sea in a small dinghy, she gave birth to their second child. That was almost three months ago. “We stayed for 1 ½ months in a tent in Moria. Now we are since one month in a tent in Malakasa. Our tent is dirty and wet. The biggest problem in our tent is that we suffer from heat during the day and we will suffer humidity and be wet and cold when it rains. There are a lot of mosquitoes lately. We are completely unprotected. Both of my kids are coughing now. I want to be somewhere safe. I want a home. On the island, we were dreaming to be transferred to a house. My baby is now three months old and has spent most of its life in tents. I try to avoid the showers in the camp. When I want to clean my kids, I do that by warming some water and washing them near the tent. I don’t want them to get any disease from the filthy showers. I also use wet wipes to clean them. When I want to take a shower myself, I never go alone. I take my husband or one of the other women to guard the door. At night, I am afraid to go out of the tent. If I have to use the toilet I go full of fear. One time we saw a snake in our tent. For one week, I could not sleep in the tent any longer. The inside of the tents is actually the outside. I feed my baby with cold milk, because I don’t have a place to warm it up. I don’t get enough pampers here. This week I didn’t get any. Every time I asked for pampers, they said come back tomorrow. I feel every day passes by like 10 years. After I wake up in the morning from the burning sun, I sit outside the tent on the earth for the rest of the day. We have nothing to do. Today, the first thing we had to do was to fix our tent because it broke down from the rain and wind. I am brooding a lot about our future. We applied for asylum and they gave us an appointment for our interview in May 2020. I just want us to forget the blood and the war. I want my family to sleep on our own pillows again safe and in peace.”[lxxvii]

ENDNOTES

[i] The recent EU-summit on migration was held on 28/29 of June 2018. The EU leaders agreed to enhance further measures to reduce irregular migration through the effective control of the EU’s external borders and to step up the effective return of irregular migrants.

For the enhanced management of migration in this frame they developed the concept of regional disembarkation platforms for people saved at sea and underlined the need to put newly arriving refugees in controlled centres in order to facilitate and fasten up the identification of those in need versus those to be returned. Earlier, Austrias conservative / right wing government, had suggested the externalisation of the European asylum system with refugees stopped already at the borders and held in closed centres in North Africa. Under the slogan “A Europe That Protects”, it proposed a focus on “security and the fight against illegal migration.” Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz controversially proposed that Austria, Germany, and Italy should form an “axis of the willing” against irregular immigration—a suggestion that evoked memories of an earlier, Nazi-led Axis that also included Germany and Italy.

Source: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2018/06/28-29/ and

https://www.ft.com/content/6a856100-7860-11e8-bc55-50daf11b720d

[ii] Following the conclusions of the June summit, PRO ASYL noted, that Europe is making escape a crime. In a statement published on 29 June, the organization harshly criticised the decisions of the EU summit as inhumane and insisted that human rights have to be respected always and not just when it is convenient for the EU. Furthermore, PRO ASYL denounced the plans to keep refugees out of the EU by any means, while infamous actors outside of Europe like the Lybian Coastguard are being paid to make the dirty job. Source: https://www.proasyl.de/news/europa-macht-flucht-zu-einem-verbrechen/

[iii] Source: https://euobserver.com/migration/142273

See also in German: https://www.proasyl.de/news/transitzentren-die-union-und-ihre-fiktion-der-rechtmaessigkeit/

[iv] The Interior Ministers Masteplan focusses on the sealing-off and deterrence of refugees escaping death, while measures included for the ones already there focus on driving them out. Overall, the focus is on closed centres and returns, as PRO ASYL criticizes.

Source: https://www.proasyl.de/news/masterplan-deutschland-macht-dicht/

[v] Source: https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/greece-starts-bailing-out-germany-on-refugees/ and

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/griechenland-dimitris-vitsas-ueber-die-fluechtlingskrise-interview-a-1217844.html

[vi] Source: http://asylo.gov.gr/en/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/DublinStatsJune18EN.pdf

http://asylo.gov.gr/en/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/DublinStatsJune18EN.pdf

[vii] Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council (of 26 June 2013) laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast).

Source: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32013L0033

[viii] On 15 March 2017,individual assurances provided by the Greek side such as: ‘(a) transfer will take place after approval and until further notice on the basis of an assurance from Greece that the person to be transferred will be accommodated in accordance with the standards of Directive 2013/33/EU and that his application will be processed in accordance with Directive 2013/32/EU.’ It further stated, that ‘for the time being, the Federal Office will refrain from submitting requests to Greece for vulnerable persons. Letter by Norbert Seitz, Ministerial Director in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, to the president of the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees (Bamf), Jutta Cordt. Dated 15 March 2017 (File Nr. AG M4 – 20203/1#1

See also: https://www.dw.com/en/eu-restarts-asylum-seeker-returns-to-greece/a-37939811 and

https://www.proasyl.de/news/griechenland-abschiebungen-trotz-schutzlosigkeit-und-miserablen-bedingungen/

[ix] In a Press Release dated on 8. December 2016, the Commission stated: “However the resumption has to take into account of the fact that Greece is still facing high migratory pressure and that deficiencies in the Greek asylum system remain, in particular as regards reception conditions, the treatment of vulnerable applicants and the speed with which asylum applications are registered, lodged and examined.” http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-4281_en.htm

[x] Evros arrivals: January – May 2018 was 7,200 compared with an estimated 5,600 for the whole of 2017! Source: https://reliefweb.int/report/greece/fewer-refugees-arriving-greece-s-evros-region-problems-remain

[xi] January-May 2018 7,200 persons were arrested for irregular entry at the Greek Turkish land border compared to 5,600 in the whole year 2017, according to UNHCR.

Source: http://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2018/6/5b1e69744/fewer-refugees-arriving-greeces-evros-region-problems-remain.html

[xii] Source:http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/02/25/mouzalas-we-plan-to-close-most-refugee-camps-in-2017-move-people-into-apartments/

[xiii] The then Minister said during an interview: “The situation is better in the mainland, where we were ready to close some accommodation centres in Elefsina, Trikala, Oinofyta, Derveni and Volos, which we will close but we will keep them to be ready for any possible developments.”(Original: „Καλύτερη είναι η κατάσταση στην ενδοχώρα, όπου ήμασταν έτοιμοι να κλείσουμε κάποια κέντρα φιλοξενίας στην Ελευσίνα, τα Τρίκαλα, τα Οινόφυτα, το Δερβένι και τον Βόλο τα οποία θα κλείσουμε αλλά θα τα κρατήσουμε για να είμαστε έτοιμοι για παν ενδεχόμενο“.) Source: http://www.in.gr/2017/11/01/greece/moyzalas-epimenoyme-sti-dimioyrgia-newn-xwrwn-ypodoxis-konta-sta-hot-spots/

[xiv] Source: https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/greece-starts-bailing-out-germany-on-refugees/ and

http://www.kathimerini.gr/974948/article/epikairothta/ellada/mpalafas-sthn-endoxwra-apo-ta-nhsia-7000-prosfyges-ews-ta-telh-septemvrioy

[xv] Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/229741/article/ekathimerini/news/migrant-camps-reopening-on-greek-mainland and

http://www.immigration.gov.gr/article-details/-/journal_content/56_INSTANCE_qAPKlk32D3aH/20182/55441?back=press-release

[xvi] Source: http://immigration.gov.gr/article-details/-/journal_content/56_INSTANCE_qAPKlk32D3aH/20182/55126?back=press-release

[xvii] Interviews were taken on June 25-29 in central Athens and in front of the camps.

[xviii] Action Aid et al. 2017: Transitioning to a government-run refugee and migrant response in Greece, p 13. Source: https://d1tn3vj7xz9fdh.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/file_attachments/greece_roadmap_oxfam_final.pdf

[xix] Daniel Howden and Apostolis Fotiadis 2017: The Refugee Archipelago. The Inside Story of What Went Wrong in Greece. Source: https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2017/03/06/the-refugee-archipelago-the-inside-story-of-what-went-wrong-in-greece

See also:

https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/20180404-managing-migration-eu-financial-support-to-greece_en.pdf and

https://reliefweb.int/report/greece/eu-announces-180-million-emergency-support-support-refugees-greece

[xx] Joint Ministerial Decision 3/5262, “Establishment of the Open Facility for the hospitality of asylum seekers and persons belonging to vulnerable groups in Eleonas Attica Region”, 18 September 2015, Gov. Official Gazette B2065/18.09.2015 and Joint Ministerial Decision 3.2/6008 “Establishment of the Open Facility for the temporary reception of applicant of international protection”, 18 September 2015, Gov. Official Gazette B’ 1940/6.06.2017.

Source: https://www.firstreception.gov.gr/PRImages/EditorImages/Ευρετήριο%20Νομοθεσίας%20ΥΠΥΤ_Ιούνιος%202018.pdf https://www.firstreception.gov.gr/PRImages/EditorImages/Ευρετήριο%20Νομοθεσίας%20ΥΠΥΤ_Ιούνιος%202018.pdf

[xxi] Joint Ministerial Decision 3/14762, “Establishment of Open Facilities for the Temporary Hospitality of applicant for international protection”, Gov. Gazette Β’ 3720/16.11.2016.

Source: https://www.firstreception.gov.gr/PRImages/EditorImages/Ευρετήριο%20Νομοθεσίας%20ΥΠΥΤ_Ιούνιος%202018.pdf https://www.firstreception.gov.gr/PRImages/EditorImages/Ευρετήριο%20Νομοθεσίας%20ΥΠΥΤ_Ιούνιος%202018.pdf

[xxii] Greek term: Δομές Προσωρινής Υποδοχής Αιτούντων Διεθνή Προστασία. See: Article 10(3) L 4375/2016. According to the same Law, the government also has the option to open temporary accommodation facilities (Δομές Προσωρινής Φιλοξενίας) for persons subject to return procedures or whose return has been suspended (see: Article 10(4) L 4375/2016).

[xxiii] Written answer to RSA on 31 July 2018.

[xxv] Interviewed on 19. March 2018.

[xxvi] Source: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/65037

[xxvii] Article 23 states that concerning the guidance, monitoring and control system: „Member States shall, with due respect to their constitutional structure, ensure that appropriate guidance, monitoring and control of the level of reception conditions are established.“

Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (recast). Source: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32003L0009

[xxviii] See: Source: http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/greece/reception-conditions/housing/types-accommodation and Joint Ministerial Decision 3/5262, “Establishment of the Open Facility for the hospitality of asylum seekers and persons belonging to vulnerable groups in Eleonas, Attica Region”, 18 September 2015, (in Greek). Source: http://www.et.gr/idocs-nph/search/pdfViewerForm.html?args=5C7QrtC22wE4q6ggiv8WTXdtvSoClrL8zQO9P8_z1iYliYHTRwL0-OJInJ48_97uHrMts-zFzeyCiBSQOpYnTy36MacmUFCx2ppFvBej56Mmc8Qdb8ZfRJqZnsIAdk8Lv_e6czmhEembNmZCMxLMtXYZnKg-TzB02Irg8RX3oO5H94lDa_xIGpdlLP5svS3I as amended by Joint Ministerial Decision 3.2/6008 “Establishment of the Open Facility for the temporary reception of applicants of international protection”, 18 September 2015, (in Greek). Source: http://5C7QrtC22wEsrjP0JAlxBXdtvSoClrL8aTfRily6hNLNZ8op6Z_wSuJInJ48_97uHrMts

[xxix] Source: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/64795

[xxx] Source: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/64795

[xxxi] ibid

[xxxii] The first have already been registered by the Reception and Identification Service as vulnerable cases.

[xxxiii] ibid

[xxxiv] Source: https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-special-oinofyta-camp-the-overwhelming-sense-of-nothingness-c37d4037a65

[xxxv] The Hellenic Center for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO) since 28.3.17 is active in 28 camps active in the frame of the operation „PHILOS“ which is funded by the EU (AMIF Fund). While funding was secured until end of August, the program got extended until October. Within PHILOS, they employ: 5 epidemologists, 1 general doctor, 1 pathologist, 7 pediatrics, 6 persons for general tasks, 38 midwives, 13 cultural mediatros, 30 dental doctors and 1 coordinator.

Source: https://philosgreece.eu/el/news/call-for-tenders/anakoinosi-apotelesmaton-28-3-2017

[xxxvi] RSA in an official letter, dated 5 July 2018, asked the Ministry of Migration for information concerning the doctors and pschologists / psychiatrists available in the four camps Eleonas, Oinofyta, Elefsina and Malakasa. The request was forwarded to the Reception and Identification Service (RIS). Due to huge workload of the Service, an answer was not available until the release of this report.

According to the minutes of the UNHCR Protection Meeting of 28th July 2018 there are: „Emerging gaps in many sites: legal actors, GBV response, health and PSS due to limited KEELPNO capacity.“

Source: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/64978

[xxxvii] Cooking facilities were in the meanwhile installed and at the time of the publication refugees were expecting to receive the 150 euro cash-card. The distance to shops has reportedly become a bigger problem ever since.

[xxxviii]Source: https://www.facebook.com/lisa.campbell.5099/posts/10215617199360099

https://www.eleftherostypos.gr/ellada/208495-epeisodia-sto-kentro-prosfygon-sta-oinofyta-voiotias/

[xxxix] Source: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/64795

[xl] ibid

[xli] ibid

[xlii] Source: https://www.megaraonair.gr/megara-kai-dytiki-attiki/epikairotita/p/6966/se-eleusina-kai-aspropurgo-oi-duo-neoi-horoi-filoxenias-prosfugon

[xliii] Source: https://www.rizospastis.gr/story.do?id=9793407

[xliv] Source: https://rsaegean.org/el/anagkaios-o-amesos-apegklovismos-ton-prosfygon-apo-tin-lesvo/

[xlv] Sources: April: https://www.rizospastis.gr/story.do?id=9793407 and

June: https://www.902.gr/eidisi/koinonia/161996/diamartyria-prosfygon-gia-kalyteres-synthikes-diaviosis-foto

[xlvi] Source: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/64795

[xlvii] Source: https://www.newsbeast.gr/greece/arthro/2483832/ikiski-anti-gia-skines-sti-domi-prosfigon-sti-malakasa

[xlviii] According to testimonies, the rub-halls had been separated in small sections of about 6m2 each. The small size hindered one of the interviewed families reportedly to move there.

[xlix] Source: https://www.902.gr/eidisi/voyli/162758/shetika-me-toys-yperarithmoys-prosfyges-sto-kentro-tis-malakasas

[l] Interviewed on 1 July in Athens.

[li] The family has been taken care of by volunteers and hosted temporarily in private home. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lii] Interviewed on 1 July in Athens.

[liii] They were issued an official note valid for 30 days.

[liv] The family has moved to Malakasa camp before one month. They first stayed in an UN-family tent and since a few days are sleeping inside a rub-hall. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lv] Interviewed on 1 July in Athens.

[lvi] The family has been taken care of by volunteers and hosted temporarily in private home. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lvii] Interviewed on 1 July in Athens.

[lviii] The family has moved to Malakasa camp before one month. They first stayed in an UN-family tent and since a few days are sleeping inside a rub-hall. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lix] Interviewed on 26 June near Oinofyta.

[lx]At the date of this report’s publication, the couple was still living in Oinofyta camp. As they explained, they were offered to stay in a flat twice, but conditions there were not acceptable for them. They stated, that they could not co-live with a specific family already living in the first flat and neither with the single men living in the second. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lxi] Interviewed on 26 June near Oinofyta.

[lxii] Kara Tepe is a refugee camp run by the municipality of Lesbos and temporarily hosts vulnerable asylum seekers who get transferred there from Moria hotspot.

[lxiii] Mohammed got transferred to a flat a week before this report was published. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lxiv] Interviewed on 26 June near Oinofyta.

[lxv] They got transferred to Oinofyta along with five other families, who had participated in a protest on Syndagma Square on 30. April 2018 carried out by homeless newcomers. Source: https://medium.com/are-you-syrious/ays-special-sleeples-in-athens-a09468ec52cc

[lxvi] The family still lives in Oinofyta camp. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lxvii] Interviewed on 28 June near Elefsina.

[lxviii] During the date of publication and according to information provided by their former neighbours, she had given birth to her third child and the family got moved to a flat. Direct contact could not be yet re-established.

[lxix] Interviewed on 28 June near Elefsina.

[lxx] Contact to the family could not be re-established to update on their current situation.

[lxxi] Interviewed on 27 June near Elefsina.

[lxxii] He is referring to 25 May incident. Source: https://rsaegean.org/el/anagkaios-o-amesos-apegklovismos-ton-prosfygon-apo-tin-lesvo/

[lxxiii] 10 days before the publication of this report, the family was transferred to a hotel run by a NGO in Athens. They continued to get the smaller cash-card allowance due to the catering provided and were all staying in one room. Despite feeling safer, they reported to suffer still from the lack of a translator to accompany them during most of the medical exams and hospital visits while they also felt abandoned with their health problems. A main cause of worry was the long wait for their asylum interview. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lxxiv] Interviewed on 29 June near Malakasa.

[lxxv]A month before the publication of this report, Jowan and his family got transferred from Malakasa to Oinofyta camp. He states that they continue having problems due to the living conditions in the new site. Specifically, his family suffers from the narrow space, as they all stay in one room. (as of 29 July 2018)

[lxxvi] Interviewed on 29 June near Malakasa.

[lxxvii] Two weeks before the publication of this report, the small family moved to in Oinofyta camp. Zeynab fells better ever since as she has a room she can lock. (as of 29 July 2018)

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