Greece: As Winter Nears, Asylum Seekers Stuck in Tents on Islands

Groups Press Greek Officials, EU States for Mainland Transfers, Improved Conditions

(Athens, November 22, 2017) – The Greek government, with the support of EU member states, should act now to end Greece’s “containment policy,” 20 human rights and aid groups said today. The policy forces asylum seekers arriving on the Greek islands to remain in overcrowded, unsafe facilities, an urgent concern with winter approaching.

Conditions on the Greek islands have continued to deteriorate in the month since 19 nongovernmental groups wrote an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, calling on him to move asylum seekers to the mainland, where better conditions and services are available.

ELFO: European Programme for empowering the institutions of foster care and guardianship

ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth in collaboration with other non-governmental organizations active in child protection issues from Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Portugal have started since 1 December 2016 the ELFO program co-funded by the Program “Rights, Equality and Citizenship’ of the European Union (2014-2020).

The general objective of the project is to improve the level and quality of protection of child victims or potential victims of violence by empowering guardians, legal representatives and foster parents of children deprived of parental care within an integrated child protection framework.Empowering of guardians and foster parents could be a key element in preventing violence and ill-treatment of children deprived of parental responsibility.

Joint letter to the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Alexis Tsipras

Athens, October 23, 2017

Dear Prime Minister Tsipras,

We, undersigned human rights and humanitarian non-governmental organisations, are writing to express our deep concern at the deteriorating conditions for thousands of women, men and children, seeking asylum and trapped on the Aegean islands as winter sets in.

We urge you to put an end to the ongoing “containment policy” of trapping asylum seekers on the islands if they arrived after the entry into force of the EU-Turkey Statement of March 18, 2016, and to immediately transfer asylum seekers to the mainland and meet their protection needs, including by providing them with adequate and dignified protection, accommodation and access to services.

We acknowledge the efforts of the Greek Government and the solidarity of the Greek people towards asylum seekers and migrants in the past years. Many of our organisations have repeatedly called on the European Union and its member states to demonstrate genuine collective action and share fairly the responsibility towards asylum seekers and migrants arriving in Greece since 2015 in a way that is humane and respects their human rights. However, the disappointing lack of real solidarity and commitment to responsibility sharing by many EU member states is no justification for the current state of asylum seekers on the Greek islands.

“Emergency Support to Refugees and Migrants in Greece”

ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth, implements the project “Emergency Support to Refugees and Migrants in Greece” in collaboration with OXFAM Novib and with the financial support of the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection fund (ECHO). The implementation period of the project is from 1/6/2016 until 31/12/2017 and has as an aim the support of the refugees in Epirus region.

Arsis from June to December 2016 provided psychosocial support services to the entire refugee population, organized creative activities to empower and mobilize refugees in all refugee emergency reception sites of Epirus Region such as Katsika, Filippiada, Tsepelovo, Doliana and Konitsa.

Arsis continued to work in the region from December 2016 until June 2017, while its activities were more focused on the management, coordination and provision of daily care and psychosocial support to refugees hosted in 5 hotel units for 6 months in Epirus region. At the same time, Arsis continued the organization of creative activities for children in Child Friendly Space of Konitsa, as well as provision of psychosocial support to Filippiada and Konitsa and organization of activities aimed at the community engagement.

From June 2017 to December 2017, the organization provides creative activities to CFS, located in the Community Centre called “Mikri Poli” in Ioannina, supported by OXFAM and Terre des Hommes through of the ECHO Fund. In addition, Arsis coordinates the “Help Desk / Social Service” of the Community Centre in Ioannina, where social services are provided to support the refugees living in the city of Ioannina. As part of the “Help Desk / Social Service”, Arsis provides information, receives requests, sends and receives referrals, provides psychosocial support, mediation with public local bodies, organizes activities focusing on the socialization and integration of refugees and provides psychological counselling. Finally, in the framework of this project, Arsis organizes activities, aiming at the community engagement and active participation of refugees in emergency sites such as Filippiada, Doliana and Konitsa, while continuing the operation of the “Child Friendly Spaces” (CFS) “, by organizing creative and educational activities in Konitsa.Logo-Arsis_english

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