Over the last two years Greece and neighbouring Mediterranean states have been experiencing an increase in the number of refugees and migrants arriving by sea, many seeking to move on to other EU states. In 2014, around 43,500 refugees and migrants arrived by sea to Greece, a 280 per cent increase from the previous year. The majority of people come from Syria (around 60 per cent), followed by Afghans, Somalis and Eritreans. This evidently represents a very complex situation with many intersecting challenges that need to be addressed both by Greece and by the European Union at large.
In order to address the deficiencies in the Greek asylum system, some of which were highlighted in the M.S.S. judgment, Greece has been implementing a complex reform of its asylum system. Significant improvements have taken place in the quality of the adjudication of asylum claims and of decisions.
However, access to the asylum procedure still remains challenging. While first and second line reception conditions are generally insufficient, they are particularly so for individuals with specific needs, such as unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), single women, and other vulnerable individuals, resulting in homelessness of asylum-seekers and difficulties access-ing much needed health services. The report concludes with a recommendation to Governments to continue to refrain from returning asylum-seekers to Greece.
Read it here.