The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Greece Challenges Asylum Critics


There has been a fair bit written recently about the current situation facing asylum seekers in Greece. You can find some of the articles covering the issue here. Greece is now rejecting the criticism made by the the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Greece says the UN’s accusations are untrue and it is trying to be fair in handling a big surge in migration

Nikolas Stavrakakis, Head of Asylum for the the Hellenic Police stated that

We are all over the country trying to screen the real people from those coming for economic reasons. We have big pressure and you have to be careful in order to be fair in this process. That’s why we have a lot of delays. All these accusations are untrue

Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, says something slightly different which at least acknowledges that Greece is not actually following EU regulations at the present time. He said the country

would fall in line with EU regulations before the end of June

He also said

Our first and only concern is respect for the human rights of all who arrive in Greece

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 14 (1) states that
Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution

I can’t quite see how Pavlopoulos’s sentiment stands up against the numbers (and the accusations of mistreatment of refugees here). Greece has the lowest asylum recognition in Europe by a long way.

Greece 25,113: 0.04% granted refugee status + 2.05% on appeal
UK 27,905: 34% granted refugee status + 24% on appeal
Sweden 36,370: 56% granted refugee status + 14% on appeal
Germany 19,164: 20% granted refugee status + 94% of the remainder on appeal

Does anyone have the figures on funding that Greece receives for asylum ? I have read that it receives very little given the numbers of asylum cases it has to process. I have also heard that the money it does get is not being used to process applications. If it is just a case of lack of funds then, of course, Greece should claim for more. However, I suspect it is a combination of factors.

There is a problem of organisation here. There is very little recognition or public awareness of the problems here for immigrants, refugees, migrants or asylum seekers. There is much denial and foot-stomping when individuals or organisations critisise anything that happens here.

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  1. db0
    April 23, 2008    

    Just to do the devil’s advocate here, let me mention that the immigrant situation in Sweden is getting worse currently. There are a lot of mulsim immigrants that came and still come to the country who are refusing to integrate with the culture, instead creating ghettos and living on welfare.

    A balance must be stuck or you run on problem on the other side.

    That does not mean that Greece is doing it correctly of course but there must be a way to avoid getting too many economic immigrants that are unwilling to cooperate.

  2. Xenos
    April 23, 2008    

    Sweden (and the other Nordic countries) made a big mistake in trying to act as Europe’s conscience about refugees. There are few jobs there for unskilled refugees, the culture is very different, the climate is much colder for people from Middle Eastern and African countries…. It is no surprise that the refugees cannot fit in.

    In Greece, however, the situation is amenable for migrants to fit in. The problem lies mainly with the Greek state’s exclusionary mentality, and refusal to grant legal rights to immigrants. There is no comparison with what has happened in Sweden.

  3. George
    April 23, 2008    

    It all boils down to what an American friend of mine says:

    Greeks have two sayings:

    DV: Den Variese (Why Bother)

    KAF: Kapios allos Ftai (It’s someone else’s fault)

    In this case, the Greeks have played the KAF card. It’s not Greece’s fault but rather the BAD UN. Hey at least it wasn’t the USA’s fault this time.


  4. April 24, 2008    

    The bare percentage numbers do not tell much. Countries like Germany and Sweden are much harder to reach for asylum seekers from southern or south-eastern countries – refugees can’t just take a small boat at night to cross the EU border and get into Germany, and air lines will try to refuse to transport people to EU countries without “proper” papers. So refugees arrive at the “border” EU countries. The rule that “asylum to the EU has to be decided at the member state where refugees first entered” was made exactly to bring down the numbers in countries like Germany. This rule wasn’t made to protect refugees, it was made to protect countries like Germany from the stream of asylum seekers, pushing them elsewhere. So now it’s countries like Greece, Italy, Spain which are where most refugees face their asylum decision – it would be interesting to see absolute numbers for “asylum seekers arriving” for the EU countries.

    That number business put aside, this is no excuse for any bad treatment of any people – whoever they are, whereever they come from. Nobody chooses without dire need to risk their lives crossing the Aegean or the strait of Gibraltar in a small, overloaded, open boat at night, risking internment at the “other end”. “We” (or rather “our political system”) have decided that only if this “dire need” is due to political prosecution is it an acceptable reason for asylum. People whose “dire need” is economic are not acceptable for asylum according to this rule. So the selection process has been set up to decide at this.

    As a law abiding, democratic citizen I will accept this politically decided distinction (like it or not, it’s a complex topic), but the mistreatment of people due to the execution of the resulting process I will always protest. Keep in mind that the next Junta might happen (sure, remote possibility right now) and *your* ass may be on the line next, seeking refuge somewhere else.

    betabugs last blog post..Even Printers Need Love

  5. Xenos
    April 24, 2008    

    THe absolute numbers of applications for asylum show continuously Sweden as receiving the most. For 2007, it was about 30,000 arriving in Sweden and a recorded high in Greece of 25,000. Bear in mind that Sweden is heavily stocked with refugees (their entire immigrant population of over 10%), while Greece has almost none.

    The Greek selection process does not decide anything at all, other than to refuse asylum. Read the international legal reports about Greece, where apparently applicants are not asked why they are seeking asylum, are not given interpreters, or simply refused permission to even apply. The international criticism of Greece is not only about numbers, it is about failure to follow proper legal process and physical/psychological abuse of asylum-seekers. All EU countries now (including Sweden) are reluctant to give refugee status, but they are furious with Greece for the state’s illegal conduct and failure to observe basic human rights.

  6. HAben
    August 12, 2008    

    Pavlopoulos of the Greek said we are having to improve and alos added that what the UNHCR said is untrue i can only say sitlling a camel walking down to earth..cause every one knows what is the stiuatin in greece this time regarding the immegrants .. one E.g is that they have called for every immegrant in Athens to pay 150 Eros for papers every one paid but they are still making money out of this poor people they dont care about human rights .. i dont think even they new the meaning of TRue When they Say the Reoport is UNtrue.. cause its differnt to swim in the sea and wactch swimming.. we were there but the offecers are still on thier office when the Police bit the immegrants.. what they keep saying is that they came for economy .. beacuse what some one does speaks waht he want .. i think Mr Avlopoulos is speaking aobut the Greeks who flee to other Country of the EU and the UNITED states..!

  7. September 17, 2008    

    no life in greece for refugee