During the last years a heated discussion emerged on the historical centre of Athens as a ¡¥ghetto¡¦ inhabited mainly by irregular immigrants and presumably degraded by criminality linked to ethnic groups. This widely diffused discourse, often built around stereotypes and misrepresentation of migrants and refugees, challenged the RAXEN NFP in surveying the perspective of the asylum seekers (a/s) living independently in the centre of Athens.
The most striking finding of the survey is that the asylum system in Greece as described by the asylum seekers appears to be almost inexistent, or at least far less than what is provided by national and EU law provisions.
Results were an eye-opener in revealing stories of disrespect and violation of rights, but also of resilience and of a very shaky, insecure, nevertheless enduring hope for asylum and fundamental rights protection.
The main patterns emerging from focus group discussions irrespective of gender, age or nationality are as follows:
- There is a shocking absence of information either in early or later stages of an asylum application. As a result asylum seekers are not aware of their rights and obligations. Some asylum seekers ignored or misunderstood their status and time limits.
- None of the 49 persons interviewed for this survey have never had an interview by the authorities on their asylum claim. Only one of the interviewed asylum seekers whose application have been rejected in the first instance did participate to a non-completed hearing once.
Head of Research – Report Editor
Miltos Pavlou (author of Executive Summary, Chapter 2)
Eleni Dourou-Ktistaki (note taker, author of chapter 1)
Interviewers - Moderators
GCR (Greek Council for Refugees) Lawyers Team
Melia Pouri (team coordinator)
Assisting-attending UNHCR-Greece officer
Assisting-attending FRA officer
Reporting Researcher i-RED expert
With the support of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) for providing its lawyers’ and interpreters’ team for identifying and contacting asylum seekers and its premises to hold some of the focus groups www.gcr.gr With the support of Athens Yoga for providing culturally adequate and neutral premises to hold focus groups www.athensyoga.gr