February 17, 2009

News release - Police forces evaquate building with asylum seekers

Print this post
News release
Athens, 17/02/2009

On Monday, 10/02/2009, police forces entered an abandoned building on Sokratous street (known as the "Ambassador" building) and chased away its homeless "residents". It is in buildings like this as well as in parks where homeless asylum seekers seek refuge in Greece. Among its residents, were several Iranian asylum seekers, that have sought protection before the Greek authorities fearing persecution on political grounds.
These Iranian asylum seekers are former members of a known political organisation in Iran
and fled from their country many years ago. Most of them are victims of torture and in need of immediate rehabilitation and medical treatment. They were imprisoned for years in an american camp under undefined circumstances. They first sought refuge in Iraq, where they were recognised as refugees on mandate by UNHCR. Following the deterioration of the general situation there, they were forced to leave Iraq and undertake a hazardous journey before reaching Greece in order to ask for protection.
Upon arriving in Greece they were treated like all unlawful migrants. The Greek authorities issued them with deportation orders and detained them for prolonged periods of time, until refugee organisations were able to locate them with the assistance of UNHCR, request their release and thereby enable them to submit asylum claims.
All these asylum seekers are homeless, without any social support and are particularly vulnerable since they have suffered torture and persecution. However the Greek Government has failed to offer them any form of social and medical assistance, process their asylum claims and protect them, a failure which is in blunt violation of Greek law, as well as European and international obligations. These people ended up living in a deserted building with no electricity, no running water and often no food before being chased away by the police.
Coming to live in Greece was not their free choice. They fled from their home country and have already been recognised as refugees on mandate by UNHCR. These people are entitled:

- To receive protection
- To have their asylum claims processed
- To receive social assistance (shelter, food), in order to be able to survive in a humanely way
- To receive appropriate medical attention and rehabilitation

We demand from the Greek Government to merely live up to its obligations

Greek Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees
Network of Social Support of Migrants and Refugees