Thursday, 12 November 2009
Developments in the field of refugee asylum in Greece
ATHENS - In the aftermath of a successful concert on 16 September at Petra Theatre, the President of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), , received today from the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, George Dalaras, the amount of 40,000 euros in support of the most vulnerable refugees in Greece, such as women and children.
In her speech, Lilian Argyropoulos thanked George Dalaras for his symbolic gesture, on the GCR’s 20th Anniversary. “George Dalaras’ decision to donate this amount to help refugee children and vulnerable groups supported by the GCR, is an exemplary action of social responsibility”, she said. Argyropoulos also stressed the need to reform the existing asylum legislation and assign the asylum procedure to an independent body, in which the GCR is willing to participate with trained and experienced professionals.
The floor was then given to George Dalaras, who spoke about the problems faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. Dalaras expressed the hope that positive developments in the field of asylum will soon become visible. He also appealed to the media to approach the refugee issue in a more dynamic manner, visit detention centres, talk to the people and help promoting the problems and needs of refugees.
The discussion then focused on recent developments regarding main refugee protection concerns in Greece. The Head of the UNHCR Office in Greece, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, referred to the chronic problems of the asylum system and stressed the need for radical changes in the asylum procedure, including the examination of the asylum claims and the issuance of the relevant decisions. Tsarbopoulos said that UNHCR welcomed the statement of the Minister of Citizen’s Protection regarding the transfer of the asylum responsibility from the police to a civil authority. At the same time, he sketched out the main principles underpinning a fair and efficient asylum system, through the creation of a separate Asylum Unit and an independent Appeals Committee. “The government needs to take the initiative to promptly establish a working group of experts, with a view to put forward shortly a specific plan of action, including all necessary legislative changes, the new asylum bodies and the most adequate transitional measures to the new system”, he said.
Finally, UNHCR and GCR highlighted the need for a different approach vis-à-vis mixed groups – including both refugees and migrants: establish organized reception structures at entry points, as well as accommodation facilities for particular groups of vulnerable persons, including unaccompanied minors.
For further information please contact:
Ketty Kehayioylou / Stella Nanou, UNHCR, tel. 210 6756801
Anthi Karavida, GCR, tel. 210 3320004
Website: www.unhcr.gr www.gcr.gr