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Greece:  16th NIEM Coalition Meeting: The absence of integration infrastructure in the areas of the Greek region (islands and inland)

20th April 2021: Evidences that the prospect of integration of refugees and migrants trapped in Reception and Identification Centers on the islands and Evros is almost none have been presented by the speakers during the event "ANTIGONE" on the topic of "The absence of integration infrastructure in the regions of the Greek region (islands and inland)". 

The representative of the RSA (Refugee Support in the Aegean) organization, which had been honored with the Nansen Prize of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Efi Latsoudi, spoke about the situation in the camp of Kara Tepe in Lesvos and spoke about 7,500 people who lived in tents, without water and heating and waiting in queues even to wash their hands.

"In essence, we are re-injuring these people by pursuing a policy of confinement and deprivation of their rights, which is the opposite of integration," Latsoudi said, adding that there was no provision for the 2,500 people who had already been granted asylum but remained in the camp.

A similar picture was presented by the speakers Natasa Strachini, Theodoros Megaloikonomou and Anastasia Theodoridou regarding the closed structures that operate in Chios, Leros and Samos, while special reference was made to the additional restrictions that had been imposed on refugees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An exception to this scenario is the situation that prevails in Crete where 1,400 accommodation places have been created, mainly in apartments, shaping a completely different reality in the area of refugee integration.

According to Dimitra Kampeli, Head of the Housing Program ESTIA of Heraklion Development "the key to this success was the social consensus and synergies of all stakeholders that created a climate of security and acceptance." In fact, the results are excellent in the field of work of refugees and immigrants as, as he said, the demand from local companies is greater than the supply.

The president of the Greek Department of Amnesty International and a lawyer specializing in refugee law, Spyros Apergis, spoke about the developments in Evros and more specifically about the issue of the structure at the Outpost. As he said, despite the assurances of the government to the local actors that the structure would not be expanded, contracts for the lease of spaces located around the KYT have been approved and have already been published in "Diavgeia".
Mr. Apergis, like other rapporteurs, referred to the "Helios" program, which, as stressed, is incomplete and the only one in Greece for the inclusion of beneficiaries of international protection.

Finally, the president of the Youth Center of Epirus, Thomas Tsikos-Tsermelis, spoke about the difficulties of transition from the ESTIA I program that the UNHCR "ran" to ESTIA II, which is "run" by the Ministry of Immigration, and noted that at that moment the NGO managed in Ioannina 192 houses which can accommodate 960 people.

The event took place in the framework of the project 'National Integration and Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM)  funded by the European Asylum, Immigration and Integration Fund (AMIF) .