Protest of refugee families against delayed transfers to their beloved ones in Germany

Today again dozens of refugee families gathered in Athens in front of the Asylum Service at Katekhaki to demand their immediate transfer to Germany. At the same time, some others gathered for a protest in Heraklion, Crete Island.

“We escaped the war in Syria as a family. On our way to Europe we got separated from our small daughter, when the smugglers split us in groups by force. We didn’t know if she is alive for months and we haven’t seen her for more than three years. We got stuck in Greece before two years but got the acceptance to go to Germany already back in March 2017,” says the father F. His wife cannot talk anymore without crying. “I just miss my daughter,” she says with tears in her eyes.

The mothers and children in front of the Asylum Service pound on the metal fence around the Asylum Services gate shouting loudly: “We want to go! We want to go!”

“We even did a 14-day hunger strike in the beginning of November 2017, but we are still here and my child is alone in Germany,” says H. a single mother of six who got her acceptance in April 2017. “We are now on the latest list for the ones who should be issued tickets, but since the change of the responsible travel agency, the issuance of tickets is blocked again and again for different reasons. One time they say they have bureaucratic problems; one time they say there is no money. In the Asylum Service they told us today we should wait another 7-10 days to see if they can solve their problems. We are protesting for the delays of our transfer since spring 2017 and we don’t hear nothing else than ‘give us some time to solve the problems’. For the employees of the Greek and German Asylum Services and the Zorpidis Travel Agency it is “just” some more weeks or months. For us every second far from our kids, husbands or wives is a world of pain!”

Until today, more than 4,000 refugees in Greece have the acceptance to move to Germany through family reunification based on Dublin III Regulation, but no ticket to go. Without the permit of the Asylum Services of both countries, they have to wait and waiting times have now reached two years since their arrival in Greece. Currently, people with acceptances from April 2017 are scheduled for the issuance of tickets but they still don’t know when they will actually fly.

“We demanded the immediate transfer to Germany of all accepted family reunification applicants during the hunger strike and the free of charge traveling for all. The governments of Greece and Germany thereafter slightly increased the transfers, but the number of people waiting to join their beloved remained the same high. By the beginning of this year we were glad to hear that at least tickets would be covered finally by the government, as it is foreseen by law. But now we end up begging the Asylum Service to pay them again by ourselves in order to finally fly,” F. continues to explain.

According to Dublin III family reunification applicants who got accepted to go, should be transferred within a six-months-deadline to the country in charge. The mothers, fathers and children protesting today are waiting already since 11 months and have lost all sympathy with the authorities of both countries and their excuses.

“We ask you to just respect your own laws and us as families,” says A. a single mother from Syria. “I am suffering. I wait to go to my husband. My relatives in Syria die one after, while I am stuck here in Greece alone with the kids.”

In the meanwhile, the newly refugees arriving in Greece newly fear the long procedures of family reunification that may last for two years or longer and try to continue their journeys clandestinely, risking their lives one more time due to the illegal and inhuman EU-Turkey Deal and repressive migration policies that build walls instead of bridges.