Scroll Top

Recognised Refugees in Greece - 2024

Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece.
Access to documents and socio-economic rights

Refugees in Greece face chronic legal and practical obstacles to access to documents and socio-economic rights. These barriers, coupled with a policy expecting immediate autonomy and self-sufficiency, expose many holders of international protection to situations of homelessness and destitution, according to the new annual report published today by Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) and PRO ASYL Foundation.

Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece have no effective remedy against violations related to deprivation of socio-economic rights and to destitution.

Ayaan* (41) is a single mother from Somalia who speaks only Somali and never learned to read and write as she never had the opportunity to go to school. She is a survivor of violence and was issued refugee status in mid-february 2024 after six months in Greece. She currently lives in a refugee camp outside of Athens.

When we asked her about the problems she faces as a recognised refugee, she told us: “When I got my asylum decision, the camp employees assisted me to apply for my documents but they didn’t tell me my rights or how to start my life here. The next day my food was cut. My financial situation is very bad. Now I am waiting for my passport. Thinking about the day I will get it makes me both happy and worried. After I get it, I will have to leave the camp. I didn’t find a Greek class and there were no buses to go to Athens to search for a job. I will have to start from zero and build a life here. I just want to find a job to support myself, be independent and without need of help. That’s all I want to be fine.”

The report provides updated information on the conditions faced by people receiving international protection status in Greece in terms of obtaining and renewing documents, with an emphasis on the residence permit (ADET). These are documents necessary for their access to social and economic rights, such as employment, housing, health, education and social welfare.

There is also extensive reference to the HELIOS housing programme, as well as the risk of homelessness and destitution faced by recognised refugees.

The report also includes recognised refugees’ cases who are returned to Greece in the context of readmissions from other European countries. Issues concerning refugees’ access to other rights (such as access to social welfare, benefits, guaranteed minimum income and medical care) are covered in more detail in our previous reports (namely, RSA & Stiftung PRO ASYL, Beneficiaries of international protection: Access to documents and socio-economic rights, March 2023; March 2022; March 2021).

All the data presented in the new RSA report on recognised refugees and their access to documents and socio-economic rights, is based on our observations through the provision of free legal assistance in such cases. These issues are highlighted in the report also through many refugees’ stories, whose cases have been undertaken by RSA.

These conditions continue to create potent risks of breach of the minimum standards set by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union according to jurisdictions throughout Europe.

Against this backdrop, the European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against Greece under Letter of Formal Notice for poor implementation of the Qualification Directive as regards the content of international protection granted.

Yet, whereas countries such as Germany or the Netherlands have adopted policies opposing deportations of beneficiaries of international protection to Greece apart from exceptional cases, European states still pursue returns of recognised refugees to Greece on the ground that they can enjoy the rights attached to their granted status.

Stats | Protracted waiting periods without identity documents

Most difficulties concern access to a residence permit (Άδεια Διαμονής Ενιαίου Τύπου, ADET), the identity document valid for three years in the case of refugees and one year in the case of subsidiary protection holders. ADET is a prerequisite for obtaining and maintaining a Social Security Number (Αριθμός Μητρώου Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης, AMKA), for accessing employment, for receiving social benefits, even for movement within the Greek territory.

ADET renewal applications must be submitted to the Asylum Service no later than 30 days prior to the expiry of the permit. Late renewal applications without due reasons face a 100 € fine.

There is a 56% increase in the backlog of ADET renewal applications pending in the past year.

These figures demonstrate critical gaps in human resources at the AAU Beneficiaries of International Protection, as expressly acknowledged by the Asylum Service1. These gaps undermine its capacity to manage such cases.

Importantly, the majority of pending ADET renewal applications are at the stage of delegation to a Unit caseworker.

Only after the issuance of an ADET Decision or an ADET Renewal Decision may beneficiaries of international protection file an email to request an appointment with the territorially competent Passport Office of the Hellenic Police for the purpose of submitting documents for the issuance of the permit. Such an appointment must be requested within six months of the issuance of the ADET Decision or ADET Renewal Decision, otherwise a new Decision must be taken.

The Aliens Unit of Attica (Τμήμα Αλλοδαπών Αττικής) is the competent office for Attica. In the cases supported by RSA over the past year, waiting times for appointments for submission of documents to TAA ranged from two or five days to four weeks from the submission of the request. Waiting times reached one or two months in some exceptional cases:

Following the submission of documents and the taking of fingerprints at the Passport Office of the Hellenic Police, beneficiaries wait until their ADET is ready for collection at the Asylum Service.

Waiting times from the submission of documents to the TAA until the collection of the ADET from the RAO of Attica in cases supported by RSA ranged from 14 to 111 days and exceeded three months in several cases:

The Asylum Service does not notify people individually of the collection of their ADET. At the end of every week, it uploads on its website a list of six-digit case numbers for which ADET are ready for collection on the indicated day. Therefore, beneficiaries have to regularly consult the weekly lists on the website of the Asylum Service until they find an entry corresponding to their individual case number.

Protracted waiting periods without identity documents

In light of the above systemic deficiencies in the process of issuance and renewal of ADET, beneficiaries of international protection, including returnees from other European countries, remain without identity documents for several months, despite concerns raised by the Ombudsman2, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR)3, the European Commission4, the EUAA5 and EU Member State authorities6.

The Asylum Service notes that “there is a delay of 6 months in the process of renewing resident permits” on account of serious delays linked mainly to the stage of processing of applications at the AAU Beneficiaries of International Protection. Waiting times in cases supported by RSA exceed one year, however: