Zarafonitou Ch., Chrysochoou E. (coll.), 2013, op.cit. See also: Zarafonitou Ch., (with the collaboration of: Georgallis Α., Georgopoulos Ch., Mouschi D., Tatsi Ch., Chrysochoou E..), “Are-there “ghettos” in the center of Athens? A criminological reconstruction of social representations of the inhabitants of these areas”, in the Volume in Honour of Ch.Dedes, N.Courakis (Ed.), A.Sakkoulas, Athens-Komotini,, 2013, p.p.149-178 & Prepublication in Criminology, vol. 2/2012 (in Greek)
# International Protection in Greece: The New Greek Asylum Service*
Director of the Greek Asylum Service
Establishing a “fair and efficient” asylum system is an integral part of a modern and comprehensive management policy of migration flows. In Europe, as well as in other parts of the world (North America, South Africa, Middle East, etc.), many nationals from other countries arrive intending to stay for a short period of time, having fled their country either because their life, their physical integrity or safety are in danger there, or because they want to improve their financial situation and in general their living conditions. In the first case, the countries they come to have specific obligations to provide them with “international protection” - if they have signed the relevant international treaties-, while in the second case, the countries do not have the obligation to accept them. The obligations for providing international protection derive from international conventions, European Directives, and national rules which in their turn reflect and integrate ancient values regarding the protection of the “foreigner” from danger.
Greece has been a country of origin of refugees and migrants for many decades. During the last twenty years Greece has been turned into a country of destination and entry into the EU, due to the political and economic stability as well as due to its geographic location, which makes it a natural crossroads between the countries of northern and central Europe and the countries of Asia and Africa. Therefore, it is very important to have a reliable asylum procedure as part of a comprehensive management system of migration flows, which will secure the refugee from the dangers in his/her country of origin, as well as our country from any abuse of this process from persons who are not entitled to receive protection. Granting asylum is not a philanthropic act but an obligation of our country pursuant to the international conventions and Greek law.
A fair but speedy asylum procedure, as the one being implemented nowadays in Greece and being presented above, ensures that purely economic migrants have no reason to resort to the asylum system, since they are aware that their claim will be denied swiftly, while genuine refugees receive the protection afforded by international conventions and national law within a reasonable time frame. International experience shows that the better and more complete the official information is which is provided to the third-country nationals relating to the legal framework for international “protection”, the Dublin III Regulation, etc., and above all the faster the processing of international protection claims, the fewer non-refugees will apply for asylum. On the contrary, when the main source of information of third-country nationals is, for example, the illegal trafficking and exploitation networks, then there is a rise in international protection claims without valid reasons. In general, a country attracts more irregular migrants when it does not have a comprehensive policy of migration flows management, when it gives the impression that its borders are not efficiently protected and when it seems to tolerate irregular migration. The international protection status that is given speedily but only to those who are entitled to it, emits a sense of fair judgment, order, and legality, which will be evident to migrants and to anyone who will try to take advantage of the vulnerable situation they are in, as well as to the citizens.
Clarification of Concepts
The concept of “refugee” is determined by the Geneva Convention 1951 and it is differentiated from the economic migrant: A refugeeis someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country. “Persecution” is considered to be the violation of a person’s fundamental rights, such as torture, arbitrary detention, discriminatory treatment endangering the survival of the persecuted person, etc. An economic migrant is someone who flees his/her country in search of better working and living conditions in the countries of his/her final destination. Economic migrants have the possibility to return to their country whenever they want, as opposed to refugees who cannot return until the situation in their country changes and is considered a safe place for them to get back to, as prescribed by the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as other international and European instruments and national laws. In other words, only if someone is not considered a refugee, he/she can be sent back to his/her country of origin. The distinction between those two categories is a complex process. Migration flows towards Greece are “mixed”, since the refugees and the economic migrants use the same transit routes and entry points to get into the country. Both often lack legal documents (i.e. entry visa) or identity documents (i.e. identity card, passport, etc.), thus turning to networks of facilitators so as to avoid border controls, rendering the recognition and verification of their country of origin and their need for international protection extremely difficult. The first registration takes place, in case of arrest, in the initial reception and detention centers. As far as the asylum seekers are concerned, the case workers can understand, using specific methods and “tools”, which is their country of origin, and determine through the asylum procedure, which ones are refugees. Communication with diplomatic representations to verify personal data is only allowed if the persons concerned are not asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection.
International protection is, according to the law, the refugee status (that is, granting asylum) and the subsidiary protection status. Asylum is the protection provided by the state to people who flee their country or fear to return to it because they will be persecuted. The requirements for granting asylum are based on, first of all, the Geneva Convention of 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees. An application for asylum can be made by someone who has fled his/her country and cannot return to it owing to a well-founded fear that he/she will be persecuted for reasons of: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, political opinion. In order to grant asylum to a claimant, he/she must meet at least one of the aforementioned requirements.
Greek law adopts the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees as well as the relevant Regulations and Directives of the European Union, which are legally binding for Greece.
The requirements for granting subsidiary protection are based on national and European law. The subsidiary protection status is granted to people who are in danger of serious harm in their country of origin.
Serious harm, according to the law, consists of the following: a) death penalty or execution, or b) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
or c) serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.
Asylum and subsidiary protection are two very similar statuses, which are also included in the single term “international protection status”, which means that a person enjoys protection from the international community / another state because his/her own country cannot or is not willing to protect him/her (that is, to safeguard his/her fundamental human rights).
In Greece, everyone who is granted international protection status has the right to stay in the country for three (3) years. They have access to education, health services, the labour market, and social security. Responsible authorities issue travel documents to recognized refugees, while beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are provided with travel documents if they are unable to obtain a national passport, unless there are compelling reasons of national security or public order. International protection status can be revoked when a change in circumstances takes place in the country of origin that makes it safe for the refugee to return. In the case of refugees, there is no quota (that is a maximum number of refugees that a country is not obliged to surpass). In the cases where it has been decided that an international protection claimant does not meet the necessary requirements, his/her application is rejected and, if he/she is staying illegally in Greece, the process for his/her repatriation either begins then or continues.
The Greek Asylum Service
The Greek Asylum Service was established by law 3907/2011 and it is the first specialized instance in the country, competent to adjudicate on applications for international protection.
The goals of the Service, according to the law, are to apply the national legislation and to abide to the country΄s international obligations regarding the recognition of refugee status and, more generally, granting international protection to aliens who have fled their country due to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and who are unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country. The law more specifically provides that the Asylum Service shall receive, examine and decide on all applications for international protection lodged in Greece. The Asylum Service shall also contribute to the formulation of the Greek policy on international protection and shall cooperate with international organisations and the European Union institutions in the areas of its remit.
In addition, the Asylum Service shall provide the administrative support to the new Appeals Authority, also established by the same law, which will examine, at second instance, appeals against negative decisions on applications for international protection.
As part of its mission, the Service is responsible, in particular for:
a. supporting the planning and formulation of the country’s policy with regard to granting asylum or any other forms of international protection, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of this implementation,
b. receiving and examining applications for international protection and ruling on them, at first level,
c. informing the persons applying for international protection on the application consideration procedure, as well as on their rights and obligations under it,
d. collecting and assessing information on the economic, social and political situation prevailing in the countries of origin of the foreign nationals and continuously monitoring the developments in these countries, in cooperation with the competent, for this purpose, other Greek or foreign authorities, especially in accordance with the relevant international agreements,
e. providing third-country nationals applying for international protection, as well as the beneficiaries of international protection with the legalizing and travel documents provided by the applicable law,
f. processing applications for family reunification of refugees,
g. facilitating applicants with regard to material reception conditions, in collaboration with other competent bodies,
h. preparing legislative texts and administrative acts on issues of its competence and
i. cooperating with governmental bodies, independent authorities and non-governmental organizations, institutions and bodies of the European Union and international organizations for more effectively fulfilling its mission.
The Asylum Service is composed of the Central Service and the Regional Asylum Services. The Regional Asylum Services report to the Central Service. The Central Service plans, directs, monitors and controls the actions of the Regional Asylum Services and ensures that the necessary conditions for the exercise of their functions are in place. The opening of Regional Asylum Services established by this provision is decided by the Minister of Citizen Protection. On July 11, 2013 the Regional Asylum Office in the region of northern Evros started to register its first applicants for international protection in Fylakio. On 29 July 2013 a second Regional Asylum Office started operating in the region of southern Evros, while another Regional Asylum Office in the island of Lesvos started its operations on 15 October 2013. An Asylum Unit started working in the Pre-removal Detention Centre of Amygdaleza in Attica region and another one in Patra. In January 2014 the Regional Asylum Office of Rhodes as well as a unit in Thessaloniki started operating, while Regional Asylum Offices and Units in Samos, Chios, Heraklion and Patra will begin operations in 2015 depending on the availability of funds.
The Central Asylum Service is composed of the following Departments:
a. Strategic Planning and Legislative Project Department.
b. Coordination Department.
c. Human Resources Department.
d. Documantation, Training and Quality Department.
e. Administration Department.
f. Finance Department.
The Asylum Service is headed by a Director appointed by the Minister of Citizen Protection, following a public call or interest, for a three-year term. The Director is a prestigious personality, with a university degree and managerial competences. The Director is the Head of the Asylum Service and reports to the Minister of Citizen Protection, while he/she may be dismissed before the expiry of his term, or upon request or due to a failure to perform his/her duties or for another serious reason related to the exercise of his/her duties. The Director is supported by a secretariat, in the framework of which an independent Public Relations and Media unit operates, taking over and handling communication, public information and public relations issues.
Ioannis Papageorgiou was the first Director of the Asylum Service from 1.9.2011 till 31.01.2012. Since 04.02.2012 Maria Stavropoulou has been appointed as Director of the Asylum Service.
The Asylum Service is staffed with public civil servants, who are transferred, assigned or detached from public services, the broader public sector or public entities or by persons employed permanently or with an indefinite or fixed-term employment contract, in accordance with the applicable provisions. All staff must be fully trained for this purpose in relation to the legal framework, the interview techniques to determine the credibility of the claimant, as well as to evaluate the situation in the countries of origin. Significant emphasis is given to the quality training of the staff of the Asylum Service in relation to the legal framework applicable to granting international protection as well as to more technical matters (interview techniques, evidence assessment, collection and evaluation of country of origin information for the countries of the claimants handling, cases of vulnerable persons, unaccompanied minors, etc.)
The European Asylum Office (EASO) provides the training through the EAC e-learning platform (European Asylum Curriculum), aiming, as far as possible, at the uniform training in asylum matters to staff of the EU member states. In parallel, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assists in training of staff through organizing seminars and providing educational materials. Proper training of the staff is considered key element, as it proves to be a fundamental guarantee of a fair and efficient process of international protection.
Today in Greece the only way to grant international protection is to request from the asylum seeker to present to the Asylum Service his/her claims. Through a full interview the authorities can reach a conclusion on whether the fear that the claimant is evoking is real, taking into account the circumstances in his/her country of origin.
The new Asylum Service undertakes only the examination of new claims for international protection, submitted to the Service since it began its operation. Previous applications remain under the competence of the Greek Police.
Finally, the Asylum Service provides administrative support to the Appeals Authority, which was also established by Law no. 3907/2011. Asylum seekers, whose claims have been rejected in the first instance, have the right, according to the law, to appeal against the decision rejecting their claim within a specific period of time. The Appeals Authority is composed of three-member independent appeals committees, consisting of an esteemed figure, specialized and experienced in refugee law or human rights law or international law, acting as Chair, a Greek citizen suggested by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a university graduate with a degree in law, political or social sciences, specialized in international protection and human rights issues, as members, along with their alternates. The Appeals Committees are supported by rapporteurs and a Secretariat, headed by a Director. The Appeals Committees will also examine appeals against decisions that revoke the international protection status that was granted.
As far as budget is concerned, approximately half of the annual budget of the Asylum Service is covered by state funds, while for the rest the Asylum Service applies for funding to the European Commission, the European Economic Area and individual member states. In 2013, the Service received funding from the European Commission and UNHCR.
The Provisions of the Dublin III Regulation
Based on the EC Regulation 604/2013 (also called “Dublin III”), the first country of entry of a third-country national in the European Union usually has the obligation to examine and take a decision on his/her asylum claim. This means that those who have entered the European Union through Greece as country of their first entry, even if they file an asylum claim in a different European country, will be returned to Greece in order for their claim to be examined. If their claim has already been rejected in Greece, it is not re-examined.
Greece as well as other countries of southern Europe, including the European Commission, UNHCR, and various non-governmental organizations, have denounced the “Dublin III Regulation” as an unfair system which is impossible to apply in practice and costly. However, as far as other countries are concerned, which constitute the countries of “first preference” of the third-country nationals that also record higher numbers of asylum seekers than Greece, Dublin III is not under negotiation.
Assuring a fair and effective asylum system and abiding by our international obligations relating to the protection of refugees, strengthens the negotiating position of our country in the effort made to ask for changes in the European policy, such as the revision of the “Dublin III” Regulation, the practical solidarity expressed towards the countries under the more significant migration pressures and a system of redistribution of asylum seekers and recognized refugees inside the E.U. The possibility for cooperation on these issues is increasing with countries such as Cyprus, Bulgaria, Malta, and Italy.
During the last few years, due to a number of international court decisions against Greece on issues of the treatment of asylum seekers, almost all EU countries have suspended the return of asylum seekers according to the “Dublin III Regulation”. These decisions concluded that Greece was not implementing a “fair and efficient asylum system”, resulting in long-lasting uncertainty to asylum seekers, and because the living and detention conditions of asylum seekers were inadequate.
Statistics for the new Greek Asylum Service
From January 2014 to September 2014, 6919 persons applied for international protection in the Greek Asylum Service. Of these 5636 were men, 1283 women and 335 unaccompanied minors.
Figure 1: Asylum applicants from January 2014 to September 2014
The highest numbers of asylum applicants recorded were citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Syria, Georgia, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Cameroon, Eritrea, Algeria, Iraq, and Senegal.
Figure 2: Asylum applicants by country of origin (January 2014 - September 2014)
According to the data from the same period, the recognition rate in Asylum Service (including both Refugee Status and Subsidiary protection), is 26%.
Figure 3: Fist Instance – Closed cases (January2014 - September 2014)
The highest recognition rates applied to nationals from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan. The lowest were for the citizens of Georgia, Albania, China, Pakistan, and Egypt.
Figure 4: First Instance – Decisions in substance recognition rate(January2014 - September 2014
At Second Instance decisions the recognition rate is 18% (including both Refugee Status and Subsidiary protection),
Figure 5: Second Instance – Decisions (January2014 - September 2014)
As outlined, the Asylum Service is a new institution in Greece and has still many challenges to overcome. Over the next year its evolution will continue, so as to expand in other areas of Greece and be in a better position to respond to emergencies. Nevertheless, taking into account the circumstances under which it was created and started operating (namely, the financial crisis afflicting our country since 2008), initial assessments of its operation have been very positive.
*This paper is based on Ms. Stavropoulou’s oral presentation at the Conference. It was compiled by Ms. Anastasia Chalkia, whose support is gratefully acknowledged.
In Greece, asylum is often mentioned as “political asylum”. In the present text the term “asylum” is used. Moreover, in the present text, the term “refugee” is used as a synonym to the term “beneficiary of international protection” which is more familiar to the public. For the same reason, the term “asylum seeker” is used here as a synonym to the term “claimant for international protection”. In European law the term “beneficiary of international protection” includes recognized refugees (those who have been granted asylum) and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.
See biography http://asylo.gov.gr/?page_id=228
The most important decisions are the following two: M.S.S. vs Belgium and Greece by the European Human Rights Court (Decision No. 30696/09, ECHR 2011 - (21.1.11)) and NS vs United Kingdom by the European Union Court (C-411/10).
See for example the assessment by EASO at http://easo.europa.eu/wp-content/uploads/Interim-assessment-on-the-implementation-of-the-EASO-Operating-Plan-for-Greece.pdf
#Non-regular Migration into Greece: Reporting and Recording Quantitative and Qualitative Research Data
Dr Joanna Tsiganou,
Director of Research, National Centre for Social Research – (EKKE), Athens, Greece
Migration and border control were within the priority framework of the Hellenic presidency. The Hellenic Presidency aimed to concentrate its efforts at highlighting the positive aspects of a comprehensive migration management and, at the same time, to attempt to tackle the problems arising from illegal migration in the economy, social cohesion and political stability. Instability in the European periphery together with the perseverance of the causes that lead to immigration flows into Europe, increase these flows and place an extra burden on EU member states, in a period of economic crisis. This burden falls mainly on the EU member-states that are at Europe’s external boarders, as well as on those heavily affected by recession and unemployment, Greece among them.
Discussion on non-regular migration, as in any other scientific undertaking, should include the definitions or otherwise, the means and ways in which migrants become ‘irregular’. This is the starting point into entering the process to count non-regular migration. As stated, the non-regular migrants can be discerned by their path into irregularity in the European South: namely, illegal entrants (including asylum seekers who entered illegally and are rejected after a short period of admitted stay as asylum seekers), visa overstayers (legal entrants on a short-term visa that expired) and migrants with a stay permit that fail to renew their legal status (due to the lack of a labour contract as most of them work in sectors with high levels of informality, instability and seasonality like tourism, agriculture, construction and domestic work). These pathways into irregularity are all, more or less, encountered in Greece, Spain, and Italy, three countries at the southern border of the EU with a high share of informal economy in comparison to north-western EU countries.
3. The language of numbers: How much non-regular migration is there?
In the attempt of building a concise data-base on non-regular migration we meet several kinds of problems ranging from the ‘dark figure’ question to issues associated to the specific nature of “moving sand” characteristics apparent in the actual numbers of traveling populations around the world. At best we are acquainted not with records of the actual numbers of non-regular migrants but with records of a variety of estimations of numbers based on specific tested indicators by compatible agencies. We are also acquainted with numbers of official responses to this phenomenon and therefore of “close to” calculations.
The fact that Greece became the main entry gate to Europe since 2008 (with the interval of the Libyan crisis that affected Italy), shifted the official attention to the irregular entry in the country. As a knock-on effect media guesstimates on the irregular migrant stock of Greece went up to 1-2 million irregular migrants living in Greece. However, such estimates are disproportionately high in relation to the actual size of the irregular migrant population: the undetected population that is apprehended in the mainland is much smaller than assumed. The incidence of double counting is much bigger and the estimatedoutflow rate is much smaller than in reality. One of the most valid appraisals of the phenomenon indicates that by June of 2012 the estimate of irregular migrant resident population in Greece amounted almost 400.000 people.
Estimates of non-regular migrant resident population in Greece in 2010 and 2011
Source: Maroukis Th., “Update report Greece/june 2012, http://irregular-migration.net/.
At the same time, in 2012, almost 77.000 third country nationals were arrested for irregular entry and residence, of whom 30.500 at Greek-Turkish land borders and almost 11.000 at the Greek-Albanian front line. It is to be noted that in Greece according to the last census data in 2011, 912.000 foreigners (EU and third country citizens) reside permanently in the country.
Migrants arrested for illegal entry and residence by the Hellenic Police Force and the Hellenic Coastguard
Greek-turkish land borders
Greek-albanian front line
Greek-FYROM front line
Greek-bulgarian front line
Rest of the country
Source: Hellenic Police Force
Arrests of illegal migrants at the Greek-Turkish land borders, on a monthly basis for the years 2011-2012 show a spectacular decrease after August 2012 attributed to the intensification of border controls. Still, these statistics compared to respective statistics for the rest of the country΄s front lines indicate a changing trend in illegal entry routes.
Arrests of illegal migrants at the Greek-Turkish land borders, on a monthly basis for the years 2011-2012
Source: Hellenic Police Force.
Another indicator the decrease in migrant remittances marks the effect of the economic crisis.
Migrant remittances (million euros)
Inflows / Collections
Outflows / Payments
Source: Bank of Greece
The above indicator is better understood if considered in connection to the higher unemployment rate of immigrants compared to that of the natives, as shown below. On the other hand, the visas issued in 2012 amounted to more than one million.
Average unemployment rate of Greek citizens and third country nationals in Greece in 2012*
Total national population
Unemployment Rate (%)
ñ Data refer to average for the period January-September 2012
Visas issued from 1.1.2012 to 18.12.2012
994.398 + 15.563 (VIS*) =
9.909 + 1.025 (VIS)=
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. * Issued by the Greek Consular Authorities applying VIS.
At the same time, a considerable number of returns has ever been increasing from 2012 onwards to arive at the 30.000 people as recently anounced by competent authorities.
RETURNS: STATISTICS 2012
FORCED RETURNS (1)
VOLUNTARY RETUNS (IOM) (2)
Source: Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection
On the other hand qualitative data suggest :
a) a type of Albanian circular migration into Greece, an irregular seasonal migration for work in agriculture, construction or tourism, which may have an effect on double counting in Albanians’ apprehension data.
b) Life-stories of Asian and African migrants being smuggled into and out of Greece suggests that on average 1 in 10 of the 2005-2011 non-regular migrant arrivals managed to cross to other EU member states.3The number of apprehended irregular migrants attempting to cross to other states over the last five years indicates that the assumed outflow share is probably an underestimation of the reality. Also, from 2011 onwards smuggling networks seeking to open pathways to Europe have proliferated.
Third country nationals arrested for illegal entry, deported and returned and smugglers arrested
2002-2012 and January 2013
Arrested by Police and Coastguard Forces for illegal entry and stay
Returned (through northern borders)
Smugglers arrested by Police or Coastguard Authorities
Information provided by FRAN, the Frontex Risk Analysis Network (FRAN) in its most recent quarterly official report (2013 - third quarter), and by means of all FRAN indicators, shows that “there is a massive influx of irregular migration in the Central Mediterranean, more detections of illegal border crossing at the maritime boarders of the EU and more applications for international protection in the EU than in any other period since data collection began in 2008”.
A summary of FRAN indicators shows a substantial increase in illegal entries.
It also shows a substantial decrease in illegal stay:
An increase in refusals of stay it is also evidenced:
An increase also in refusals of entry it is marked:
A substantial increase in asylum seekers bears witness to war problems of areas near Greece:
An increase in effective returns might provide evidence as to the Police and Boarders controls effectiveness:
In Greece, according to FRAN information, the overallnumber of detections of illegal border-crossing remained more or less stable in 2013but was still sufficientlyhigh for Greece to be rank second among allMember States for this indicator. This is because Greece continues to be affected bytwo independent flows of irregular migration: at its borders with Turkey and Albania.
Detections of illegal border-crossing during Q3 2012 and Q3 2013
SOURCE: FRAN Reports: Detections of illegal border-crossing during Q3 2012 and Q3 2013 for the top ten reporting Member States shown by size of circle; gradient of the lines indicates the degree of change between 2012 Q3 and 2013 Q3 reporting periods
Until the launch of the Greek operation Aspida in August 2012, the Greek land borderwith Turkey had for many years been the mainentrypoint to illegally cross the border intothe EU. Since then detections have droppedto negligible levels but have risen elsewhere,particularly at the Eastern Aegean Sea andon the Bulgarian land border with Turkey, now ranking fourth and fifth among all border sections. In these locations detections inreased mostly of Syrians and, to a lesser extent,Afghans.Atthe Greek land border with Albania, detections of illegal border-crossing remainedstablecompared to the previous year, almost exclusively involving Albanian circular migrants. Detections of Albanians usingfraudulentdocuments to gain entry to Greecedecreased but the number of Albanian refused entry and detected as illegal stayers increased to the highest levelin Greece for several years. Document fraud increased both in terms of detections at theexternal border and also of migrants making secondary movements within the Schengen area. Spain, Italy, France andGreecereported the most detections on entryat the external border together accountingfor more than half of all detections at the EUlevel.
As already stated, in 2013 detections of illegal border-crossing in the Central Mediterranean rose to levels comparable with those last seen during the initial stages of the Arab Spring, while seasonal increases at other sea-border routes were much less apparent.
Detections of illegal border-crossing between BCPs by main irregular migration route.
Detections of illegal stay in 2013 per Member State (blue shades) and the percentage change from the same period a year before may be identified in the table below. In Greece a decrease of 46% is marked.
Refusals of entry at the same period in Greece, as shown in the table below, have increased by 14%.
In fact the immigration routes into the EU by land and sea encircle Greece.
In the blurred map below, one might easily detect that the major irregular arrivals in Greece which apart from the main land route from Turkey - nowadays less preferable due to control policies - continue to be maritime and ferry routes.
Followingly, one might consider the issue that the more control policies are enforced the more accidental deaths of non-regular immigrants are recorded. This means that more have to be done considering rescue operations.
However, the quantities of accidental deaths in trying non-regular entrance to the EU (marked in blue circles in the table below) show the magnityde of the so-called “Dying at the Gates of Europe”.
In the following drawing it is apparent how Europe through non-regular migration boarders control is being at the center of a “walled world”, with the fence marks apparent.
4. Policies Adopted (combating irregular migration)
Turning to the policy issue, according to the latest national report on migration policy (EMN Greece March 2013), the policies adopted in this country on the issues of non-regular migration and asulym include the commitments as set out in the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum and the Stockholm Programme, which reflect the recently proclaimed EU policy priorities in the field. These priorities are set out in the following policy documents:
- Global Approach to Migration and Mobility.
- EU Action on Migratory Pressures-A Strategic Response.
- EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016).
- European Agenda for the Integration of Third Country Nationals.
Accordingly, migration and asylum issues, have remained high on the political agenda in Greece. As mentioned at the latest national report on migration policy (EMN Greece March 2013), the policies adopted in Greece include the following:
In the field of managing legal migration, “One-Stop-Shop” agencies were set up within the Decentralised Administrations of the country, with the aim to simplify and accelerate procedures of obtaining or renewing residence permits. The procedure for inviting foreign workers has been simplified due to the limitation of bureaucracy involved and cost-reduction for the applying employer. Employers have been given the opportunity to attract, through friendly and fast procedures, highly skilled third country nationals as workers. In the policy field of combating irregular migration, the so called ”Xenios Zeus” operations for the arrest of irregular migrants in Athens and other urban areas and the prevention of third country nationals’ illegal entries at the borders (starting from the Greek-Turkish land borders) were established as a permanent measure. The operations are considered as successful by the Greek government and the responsible Minister of Public Order and Citizen’s Protection, based on the observed significant change in the urban landscape of the center of Athens and a spectacular decrease of the number of illegally entering third country nationals at the borders. The construction of the artificial obstacle (fence) in Evros has contributed to the latter. Temporary detention centers/camps were put to operation to host irregular immigrants upon deportation. Construction works of a First Reception Center at the borders (region of Evros) for the third-country nationals attempting to enter Greece without authorization began in 2012. Measures of healthcare and nursing of illegally residing third country nationals, as well as sanctions against employers of illegally staying third country nationals, were adopted. In the fight against human trafficking, a ΄1109-Human trafficking resource Line΄ (3rd April 2012) for the victims was launched and joint police force operations. In the visa policy, with the consent of the European Commission, a four-months pilot programme was implemented, encouraging few days tourist arrivals from Turkey with the issuance of the visas required at the entry points of the country. In total, during 2012, the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs fostered Visas΄ Centers in certain third countries with the cooperation of external providers, so as to respond fast -in 48 hours- to the increased demand resulting from respective entry applications. Greece implements VIS at the countries where the EU has set it in operation.As regards policy of external borders management the Greek government has revised the existing National Action Plan ΄Greece-Schengen΄ aiming at enhancing further coordination of state agencies for the management of the borders, at improving allocation of personnel and assets and at the upgrading of facilities. A National Coordination Center for the Surveillance and Control of Borders has been established in order to strengthen external borders΄ control. In the effort to effectively surveil external borders, FRONTEX΄s active presence has been of crucial importance. FRONTEX joint operations POSEIDON 2012-Land, POSEIDON 2012-Sea, FOCAL POINTS 2012-Land and FOCAL POINTS-Air have also taken place. From 2012 onwards an increase of both voluntary and forced returns has been noted. There has also been some progress regarding bilateral readmission agreements, while the signing of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement in June 2012 was very important for Greece.Despite relevant efforts, developments in the asylum policy field have been slow. Migration remittances manifested a fall when compared with previous years.
5. Organising legal migration and its effect on non-regular migrants:
Since its launch in 2005 the Global Approach on Migration and Mobility focuses on four operational priorities: i) better organising legal migration and fostering well managed mobility ii) preventing and combating illegal migration and eradicating trafficking in human beings iii) maximising the development impact of migration and mobility iv) promoting international protection and enhancing the external dimension of asylum. It is evident from the priorities schedule that irregular migration is intermingled with the policies confronting legal entrants. To this point research at EKKE has shown the following.
In a recent research progect (2013) mapping all agencies governmental, non-governmental and civil society dealing with the migration issue in Greece we have concluded that there is a paramount and sound compartmentalisation of knowledge and policies as a large number of agencies, departments and bureaus are made responsible for designing and implementing the migration policy. These include the following numbers of agencies:
Regional Administrative Agencies
Regional Administrative Directorships
Local Authorities – Municipalities
Local Authorities Departments
Civil Society Organisations
Only the 22% of all these agencies provide services exclusively to immigrants.
Exclusive services to immigrants
Most of the agencies provide legal services (documents, permits, etc), information and communication services, health and care services, while issues of residence mark the lowest attention.
Information and communication channels from agency to agency are evidenced to a large extent as most front-desk employees are providing information for services held by other than their own agency (77%). The competent public servants seem very well informed so that they are able to share information with immigrants (77%). However, they admit that there are information gaps to a percentage of 32%.
Quality of services
Claims are dealt with in most cases within a month, a parameter which has been improved during the past years. Most problems are arrising out from the complicated migration policies and bureaucracy.
The 25% of agents admit that informal practices have been developed in order to help migrants in their stay in the country. Only the half of the agents responsible to adress migration policy have been trained to this end. Only the half of the competent authorities believe that the services provided are compatible to immigrants’ needs.Most of the competent authorities believe that the services provided are incompatible to their agencies administrative potential and capacity. This is true to a greater extent for local authorities agencies personnel. The correspondence of the services provided to european standards is considered minimal.
The way migration policy is implemented is confronted by certain problems, deficiencies and inconsistencies. The consequencies of the lack of co-ordination among agencies at the level of policies maybe summarised in that the agencies launch different actions for same issues while at the same time important aspects of integration are discarded. The lack of strategic action plans and the lack of prioritisation of policies lead to overlapping and ineffectiveness of policies. The political agenda lacks realism in tackling the migration question. At the level of human capital resources certain elements of vital importance maybe identifies such as: Lack of a feedback information loop, lack of agencies networking, limited capacity of personnel. As a result:
Certain Gaps in services provided are identified
Lack of co-ordination between important stakeholders is evident
All these problems maybe alleviated by the adoption of best practices implemented with success in other member states of EU suitable amended to meet the Greek case. EKKE has made proposals for the expansion and better organisation of the “one stop shops”, the better use of cultural brokers and inter-cultural mediators and the implementation of Back-End Offices for net-working and co-ordination of all communication and information channels. EKKE has proposed to amend the structure of the “one stop shops” to meet in a single unit the co-ordination services with back-end and front line approaches of all related competences.
Structure of one stop shops
In concluding the present discussion I would like to highlight the following: In an era when it is evidenced a widespread shift towards the abuse of legal channels and document fraud to mimic legal entry to the EU, which in turn results in facilitators being able to operate remotely and inconspicuously rather than accompanying migrants during high-risk activities such as illegal border crossing, the agencies dealing with the legal entrance, permits of stay and documentation rights should acquire more attention and operational funds, better programming and training and bigger share in funding their integration activities. As a high level border control officer has put it: “Itisourdutytoprotecttheboardersbutthis has become ahighrisktask. We are confronting dangers in every step due to the magnitude of irregular migration and the quality of the persons involved in trafficking. Thereisviolenceandthreatouttheretowards “us” and the “others”… Thesituation has createdgroundsofmistrustfor, fromandagainsttheforeigner. Ontheotherhandouragenciesarestilloperatingwithold practices and we have not newed our strategies, knowledge, resources and personnel”. 
7. Bibliography - References
Balourdos D., Tsiganou J. Et al. (2011013), Action 2.1./11, Research Project 2.1.b./11 funded by the European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior.
European Migration Network, EMN, Greece, Annual Policy Report, 2012, EMNEDIA.
FRAN Quarterly, Frontex Report, Q3, July – September 2013.
http://www.gr2014.eu/eu-presidency/the-greek-presidency/programme and priorities.
Kanellopoulos, K., Gregou, M., Petralias, A. (2006), Illegal immigrants in Greece: state approaches, their profile and social situation, EMN, KEPE, Athens.Maroukis Th., 2012, “Update report Greece/June 2012”, http://irregular-migration.net/.
Maroukis,T. & Gemi, E. (2011), Circular Migration between Albania and Greece, Case study report for the METOIKOS Project funded by the European Fund for Integration of Third Country Nationals, available at http://metoikos.eui.eu.
Maroukis, T. (2009), Undocumented Migration: Greece, Report for the CLANDESTINO EC funded project (available athttp://clandestino.eliamep.gr/).
Papagianopoulou M., (2014): “The management of trafficking as a political tool. Collateral damage and expendable populations”, in “Women’s Migration into Greece: A Road-Map of Social Integration Policies”, Athens, EKKE, pg. 175-206, ibid., pg. 183.
Schneider,F.& Klinglmair, R. (2004), Shadow Economies around the World: what do we know?, CESIFO Working Paper No.1167, available at www.CESifo.de.
Triandafyllidou,A. & Maroukis, T. (2012), Migrant Smuggling: Irregular Migration from Asia and Africa to Europe, Migration, Minorities and Citizenship Series, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Tsiganou J. et al. (2011-13), Action 2.1./11, Research Project 2.1.a./11 funded by the European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior.
Tsiganou J. et al. (2013): Final Report of the Action 2.1./11, Research Project 2.1.a./11, European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior.
Tsiganou J., Maratou L., (2014): “Women’s Migration into Greece: A Road-Map of Social Integration Policies”, Athens, EKKE.
Tsiganou J., Varouxi Ch., Stratoudaki ch., (2013), Final Report on “Mapping Structures and Services of the Public Sector for the Social Integration of Migrant Populations”, Athens, EKKE, European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior.
Varouxi Ch., Stratoudaki Ch., (2014): “The Social Integration of Migrant Women. Perceptions of public agencies”, in Tsiganou J., Maratou L., (2014): “Women’s Migration into Greece: A Road-Map of Social Integration Policies”, Athens, EKKE, pg. 113-160.
(1) With regard to third country nationals who have returned through coercive measures, the dominant nationalities are: 1. Pakistan, 2. Albania, 3. Bangladesh, 4. Afghanistan 5. Iran.
(2) With regard to third country nationals who have returned through the assisted voluntary return implemented by IOM in collaboration with the Hellenic Police and funded by the European Return Fund, the dominant nationalities are: 1. Pakistan, 2. Afghanistan 3. Morocco, 4. Bangladesh 5. Iraq.
Maroukis& Gemi (2011) identifying a type of Albanian circular migration to Greece.
Triandafyllidou& Maroukis case study (2012).
Triandafyllidou& Maroukis 2012.
.European Migration Network EMN
European migration Network (EMN), Greece, Annual pOlicy Report, 2012, EMNEDIA.
 See indicativelly Tsiganou J. et al. (2011-13), Action 2.1./11, Research Project 2.1.a./11 funded by the European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior, Balourdos D., Tsiganou J. Et al.(2011013), Action 2.1./11, Research Project 2.1.b./11 funded by the European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior.
See, final Report of the Action 2.1./11, Research Project 2.1.a./11, European Integration Fund, Ministry of Interior, Tsiganou J., Varouxi Ch., Stratoudaki ch., (2013), on “Mapping Structures and Services of the Public Sector for the Social Integration of Migrant Populations”, Athens, EKKE. Tsiganou J., Maratou L., (2014): “Women’s Migration into Greece: A Road-Map of Social Integration Policies”, Athens, EKKE, Varouxi Ch., Stratoudaki Ch., (2014): “The Social Integration of Migrant Women. Perceptions of public agencies”, in Tsiganou J., Maratou L., (2014): “Women’s Migration into Greece: A Road-Map of Social Integration Policies”, Athens, EKKE, pg. 113-160.
In Papagianopoulou M., (2014): “The management of trafficking as a political tool. Collateral damage and expendable populations”, in “Women’s Migration into Greece: A Road-Map of Social Integration Policies”, Athens, EKKE, pg. 175-206, ibid., pg. 183.