Relocation from Greece: lessons learned and looking ahead

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Since 2015, over 25,000 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, have been relocated from Greece to other European countries. These relocation programmes – the result of Decisions of the Council of the EU establishing an emergency mandatory relocation scheme, bilateral agreements between EU Member States and Greece, and a voluntary EU scheme established in 2020 – have transformed the lives and prospects of these people.


Despite a significant decrease in arrivals in 2020 and 2021, there is still a compelling need for continued relocation from Greece. Reception conditions, and access to essential services and asylum procedures still fall short of international standards [1]. A lack of adequate support means that those who do receive refugee status or subsidiary protection are at risk of homelessness, remain trapped in the camps or do not have access to education or financial support [2]. As of August 2021, there remain an estimated 2,738 unaccompanied children in Greece [3] and more may arrive in the future. European countries and the European Commission have the resources and ability to offer these vulnerable individuals a brighter future, offering a demonstration of solidarity both with asylum seekers and the government of Greece. This solidarity should not be considered solely humanitarian or a gesture of political support, but the respect of core legal principle of the EU.[4]


As the voluntary EU scheme is scheduled to come to an end, 29 civil society organizations call for the continuation of relocation from the country. This briefing paper, based on the organizations’ experiences both in Greece and in destination

countries, offers their perspective on how to improve the process and outcomes for those being relocated, particularly for unaccompanied children.

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DATE
Thursday, November 4, 2021
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Subject

Since 2015, over 25,000 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, have been relocated from Greece to other European countries. These relocation programmes – the result of Decisions of the Council of the EU establishing an emergency mandatory relocation scheme, bilateral agreements between EU Member States and Greece, and a voluntary EU scheme established in 2020 – have transformed the lives and prospects of these people.


Despite a significant decrease in arrivals in 2020 and 2021, there is still a compelling need for continued relocation from Greece. Reception conditions, and access to essential services and asylum procedures still fall short of international standards [1]. A lack of adequate support means that those who do receive refugee status or subsidiary protection are at risk of homelessness, remain trapped in the camps or do not have access to education or financial support [2]. As of August 2021, there remain an estimated 2,738 unaccompanied children in Greece [3] and more may arrive in the future. European countries and the European Commission have the resources and ability to offer these vulnerable individuals a brighter future, offering a demonstration of solidarity both with asylum seekers and the government of Greece. This solidarity should not be considered solely humanitarian or a gesture of political support, but the respect of core legal principle of the EU.[4]


As the voluntary EU scheme is scheduled to come to an end, 29 civil society organizations call for the continuation of relocation from the country. This briefing paper, based on the organizations’ experiences both in Greece and in destination

countries, offers their perspective on how to improve the process and outcomes for those being relocated, particularly for unaccompanied children.

Co-signed by

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