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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.

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