Mass rejection of renewal of 2-year refugee status

How “real” asylum recognition rates are in Greece in reality… About the temporariness of being a recognised refugee in Greece:

by D. Angelidis

The General Secretary of the Ministry of Citizen Protection and Public Order, Mr Ath. Andreoulakos is destroying consciously and illegally the work of the Asylum Committees while he is rejecting arbitrarily the renewal of the two-year protection status (subsidiary and humanitarian) of many refugees who then end up without papers.


NGOs speak of an industry of rejections when it comes to the renewal of humanitarian or subsidiary protection in Greece. The refugees who understood they had to renew their papers and who applied for that depend on the decision of the General Secretary of the Ministry. It is highly questionable if he has the expertise to take such a decision, but he doesn’t even examine case by case if the grounds of persecution in each case are still valid, instead he actually just rejects the applications and turns upside down the decisions which were taken two years ago by the Asylum Committees.


In one example of a renewal rejection he stated:

“he did not sufficiently explain why he could not live in another part of his country, like in Kabul, where since 2001 a large number of Afghans moved and lives”. He continues: “it does not appear objectively that his deportation or return to his country of origin is not feasible. And:”According to the 2010 report of the UN on Afghanistan there are cases of blind violence (…) but they cannot be considered as generalised violence.”

These facts had been examined by the responsible Asylum Committee and had taken the opposite decision. It thus becomes clear that the General Secretary is braking down the new asylum system which has started its function only a few years ago.

Even if the rejected refugees appeal against this rejection of the renewal they immediately loose their papers and only get a confirmation note that can be only used for the temporary suspension of their deportation. The appeal will be examined by the Asylum Committees again.

The affected refugees live in fear to be controlled and transferred to police stations constantly. Meanwhile the examination of cases has been halted temporarily and again the backlog grows.

“They should receive the papers that offer them the same rights they had when they apply for the renewal or when they appeal against the rejection until their case is finally decided upon.” says UNHCR Greece.

Until this happens refugees which had been living regularly in Greece have been transformed again in human ghosts without right to work, right to rent a home, to get involved with the public services and without the possbility to walk without fear in the streets.


“The dogs can go out, I can’t!”

Reza came 2008 from Afghanistan to Greece in order to escape a family vendeta. Following the hunger strike of dozens of Afghans in Propilia (Athens Uni) he received subsidiary protection in June 2011 and he put his life in an order as he did with his wife and three minor children. Last year in June the General Secretary rejected his application for renewal. Reza appealed against it and since then waits – without papers – for the Asylum Committee to hold a meeting and decide on his case.

“I don’t want the state to give me a house. I want to be the same like the others, I want to live. The dogs csan walk around on streets, but I can’t. Hundred times the police has stopped me and brought me to Aliens police in Petrou Ralli. I work on the weekly market loading and unloading products but I cannot earn insurance stamps. I was a dealer in antiques. I bought a motor bike with money I had saved ad borrowed money: 2.200 Euro. I wanted to put number plates and they told me “you don’t have papers!” I put it on a parking and pay it without being able to move it. We cannot live like this. I cannot return to Afghanistan. If they don’t want me in Greece, why don’t they let me go to another country? They should decide…”

(note by the translator: Despite EU-law and since some months refugees with humanitarian or subsidiary protection in Greece face the problem that they are not allowed to travel out of Greece)

efimerida ton sindakton (in greek)

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... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

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