By Clara Marshall - Communications and Fundraising Manager
"Four months after traveling from Greece to Italy to join my brother, I have received residency and started attending school. I am very happy. I want to thank my interpreter, my lawyers and the whole organisation who helped me get here."
- Former applicant
One year after the devastating fire that destroyed Moria camp, asylum seekers in Greece continue to feel the impact of a hardening of attitudes at domestic and EU level, an increasingly strict asylum procedure and a deteriorating situation in their countries of origin.
Over the past two years, more than 70% of those we have assisted have been from Afghanistan. Now, thousands of Afghans already in Greece have seen the situation in their home country deteriorate drastically, with major implications for their asylum process. We also expect that many more will seek to apply for asylum in Greece in the coming months (including potentially thousands whose asylum claim was initially rejected, but have the right to lodge a new application following the events in Afghanistan). However, due to a recent Greek ministerial decision that designates Turkey as a "safe country" for Afghans (as well as four other nationalities), they are at significant risk of being denied a substantive assessment of their claim and deported.
On the Greek islands, Greek and European authorities continue to pursue policies designed to contain and exclude those seeking asylum. On Saturday, 18 September, a closed structure was opened at Zervou on Samos, almost 10 kilometres from Vathy. All 400 residents of Vathi camp have now been transferred to the new facility. ELIL joined 45 other civil society organisations in calling on the EU to abandon policies that contain people and instead facilitate social inclusion and integration.
ELIL is seeking renewed support to expand its teams in Lesvos and Athens to meet the increased need for legal assistance to Afghan refugees in Greece. By recruiting additional Greek lawyers and interpreters, as well as expanding remote legal support from our volunteer lawyers, we will ensure that we are able to respond to the fast-changing context.
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