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Announcement of the Greek Council for Refugees on the relocation of Syrian refugees after the 20.3.2016

Athens, 10-10-2017

 Following its official letter to the Asylum Service and the Ministry of Migration on 25-09-2017, the Greek Council for Refugees urges the Greek authorities to review their existing practice, which excludes from the relocation program a person that fulfills the conditions laid out in the Decisions (EU) 2015/1523 and 2015/1601 of the European Council, but entered the Greek territory after the EU-Turkey Statement, specifically from 20-3-2016 onwards.

As it is known, the above Decisions provided the possibility for relocating 160,000 applicants seeking international protection from Greece and Italy to other EU countries, under a mechanism of a "fairer" distribution of the burden of managing the flow of the refugee population, on the basis of solidarity among European partners. According to the data published by the European Commission [1], among the 63,302 applicants who were supposed to be relocated from Greece to another Member State, only 20,471 were successfully included in the relocation program, a number which makes up less than 30% of the designated number.

It is certain that if these Decisions of the European Council had been properly implemented, almost all refugees who entered the Greek territory until the 26-9-2017 would have been relocated to other EU countries, given the fact that the majority of them met the conditions of relocation (mainly Syrian citizens). However, this was not made possible, because of the exclusion of those who entered the country after 20-3-2016, a practice adopted by the Greek authorities with the tolerance of the European Commission and the international organizations, in a misapplication of the EU-Turkey Statement and by infringement of the above Decisions of the European Council.

The Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Union, Mr. D. Avramopoulos, was forced to admit the above malpractice, in a reply to a question from a MEP in the European Parliament, stressing that:

"The EU-Turkey statement did not have an amending effect on the Council Decisions on relocation, and it remains the national competence of Greece to decide whether an applicant for international protection in Greece is eligible for the relocation scheme." [2].

In view of the fact that the issue continues to concern a large number of applicants seeking international protection who, although they were eligible for relocation to other Member States in accordance with the above Decisions, were deprived of this opportunity due to their entry into the country after 20-3-2016, it is crucial that the Greek authorities change their practice immediately to include all those who have entered Greece until 26-9-2017, who wish to be included in the relocation process, while fulfilling the relevant conditions.

This erroneous practice on the part of the Greek authorities, in co-operation with the European Commission, which admitted its mistake too late and very close to the expiration date of the relocation program, is another unfavorable consequence of the EU-Turkey Statement, which has called fundamental rights of refugees into question.

 

For more information, please contact:

Danai Leivada

Communications Officer

Greek Council for Refugees

Solomou 25 Str, 10682, Athens

Tel: +30 210-3800990

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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