Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Voice of Communities

The voice of communities of immigrants living in Greece on their quest to have access to the asylum procedure and to be granted refugee status, and the problems undocumented people face like racist attacks. All this was heard in the conference organized last Friday for the Greek Forum of Refugees in cooperation with the Greek Council for Refugees entitled "The asylum today-the Voice of Communities."

Karam Kantoul, from Syria, decided to leave his home because he had no hope there, as narrated, because of "a war that was not our choice." He travelled from Turkey to Greece, in a six meters boat in a stormy sea, along with 37 other people, including a girl wounded in the abdomen, a newborn and a pregnant woman. "We were displacing with our shoes the water from the boat. When we arrived in Mytilene, we were reborn", he said. 

Subsequently, however, he reported frustration with the harsh reality faced, He was asked for thousands of euros by 'intermediaries "to help him to go to Sweden on 32 times, he said, but the Asylum Service in Katechaki has failed to consider the request, and claimed that he accepted "bad behavior".

The first Greek words I learned were " get out "and" tomorrow". "I wanted to become legal in this country", says Karam Kantoul, whose case is one of many that the Humanitarian Initiative "Bridges" for Syrian Refugees in Greece, trying to cope.

Elias Antoine, who has lived in Syros, Greece, for 24 years representing the Initiative, said that "the Syrian refugees without documents daily risk being arrested, no food, no medicine and we inform them what rights they have in Greece and we have helped many families be reunited. "

About the difficult reality of the asylum procesure spoke Eleni Petrakis, representative of the Asylum Service of the Ministry of Citizen Protection. She talked about the situation of the service, describing it as gloomy and difficult and at the same time, "we few, we aim to serve and determine who should be granted refugee status." Mrs. Petrakis stressed that the regional office in Athens Asylum faces up today issues from the whole of Greece, and by the end of 2014 is expected to operate the office in Thessaloniki. "Our goal is to not expect even half an hour," said Mr Petrakis, noting that the Service will immediately begin a dialogue with all immigrant communities to find solutions to problems.

"The Asylum Service that works for a year is a good step but it is understaffed and not enough because it is only an office for the whole Greece. This is the big problem, "noted Younous Muhammadi, president of the Greek Forum of Refugees. "There is also an issue because the new Asylum Service is only for new arrivals and not for those who has been for years here, for those within the old system of asylum. There are people who wait for years to consider their request, "he said.

"Some Sudanese people had been waiting for ten years in Greece in order to consider the request to be granted asylum" argued the community representative of Sudan, said that while people often originating from this country are victims of racist attacks in Greece. For its part, the representative of the Somali community noted that the main problem facing Somalis in Greece is that they can very easily be found in prison because they have no legal documents. As stressed also have no money to seek legal assistance and invited NGOs to support them.

For "push-backs" spoke Elias Anagnostopoulos, director of the Greek Section of Amnesty International, noting that "Amnesty International has repeatedly sounded the alarm on the heavy complaints of human rights abuses against refugees and migrants at the Greek-Turkish border." He talked about reports by Amnesty International which examines "abuse border control, spearheaded the illegal and often dangerous practice of summary push back of identified migrants and refugees back to the other side of the border." "The European Union can not pretend they don't see these abuses," said Mr. Anagnostopoulos.

Vanda Tsakatara, Director of Social Awareness and Solidarity in the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, said that the issue of immigration is one of the priorities of the government and referred to the relevant EU funds declining consistently becomes more difficult to meet the needs cover on respect to this matter by the Ministry of Labour.

"The debate about inmigrants and refugees under 18 years old is a vital subject and not a matter of luxury" said Maria Kouvelis, president of the Council for the Integration of Immigrants in the municipality of Athens, while Daphne Kapetanaki, from the High Commissioner for Refugees, noted that it is a very important role of immigrant communities to be more involved in decision making. 

"For us the most important are those who enter the country to have a safe and decent living," said Angela Chrysochoidou-Argyropoulos, President of the Board of the Greek Council for Refugees.

The conference is part of the "Social Assistance for Integration of Refugees" implemented under the European Refugee Fund in 2012 and funded by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare and the European Union.

No comments:

Post a Comment