Reports 2016

Refugee reception in Greece – The present situation and future plans

28 September 2016

Since the beginning of the refugee crisis in September 2015, Greece has been at the forefront of the struggle to manage the reception of refugees in an orderly and humane manner. With a view to helping Greece and restoring order at external borders, the EU and member states have adopted and deployed a series of operational measures such as hotspots, the relocation programme and the controversial EU-Turkey deal. Nevertheless, the measures put into place fall short of addressing the objectives set. The hotspots are overcrowded and underperforming due to the lack of adequate resources, relocations remain tremendously low, the deal with Turkey is delicate and the conditions asylum-seekers and refugees live under in Greece are a source of great concern.

This Policy Dialogue looked into this dire situation and discussed the status quo, as well as solutions to move forward. Vincent Cochetel opened the event with a keynote speech, providing first-hand insights into the situation on the ground in Greece. The ensuing panel discussion included contributions from representatives of Amnesty International, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the European Commission and the Greek government, addressing current challenges, progress and the measures needed to improve the situation in the long term. A question and answer session followed the presentations.

Speakers included: Giovanni Grevi, Senior Fellow, European Policy Centre, Vincent Cochetel, Regional Refugee Coordinator for the refugee crisis in Europe & Director of the Europe Bureau, UNHCR, Iverna McGowan, Head of European Institutions Office and Advocacy Director, Amnesty International, Valerie Ceccherini, EU Advocacy Adviser, Norwegian Refugee Council, Alain Scriban, Principal Adviser, DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, Spyridon Voulgaris, Head of JHA & Schengen Unit, Permanent Representation of Greece to the EU