In Greece, thousands of refugees threatened with expulsion

“How the Greek government can throw us in the street?” More than 11 000 refugees need to be deported starting on Monday of the social housing units which were awarded through Greece, according to the department of Migration.

Expulsion expected as early as April, but “a time limit has been given until the end of may because of the epidemic of Covid-19”, said the minister of Migration, Notis Mitarachi.

The new legislation, voted on in November, has reduced from six to one month the period during which the refugees who have been granted asylum to stay in these apartments.

“For ten years we are fighting to survive. (…) Now then that our situation was stabilized, we are being asked again to start all over again…”, says the AFP Abdelkader Rahmoun.

This Syrian of 44 years, his wife and his two children have to leave at the end of June the housing that has been allocated to them by the NGO Greek Nostos in Piraeus, the port of Athens, in the framework of the programme, accommodation ESTIA managed by the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and funded by the european Commission

“Our financial support of 400 euros per month we will also be cut. If we are evicted, we may find in the street,” he said.

The former taxi driver recalls how in Idlib, Syria, his family has already “changed several times, from housing to shelter bombing” before you reach Greece via Turkey.

In this popular neighbourhood of Piraeus, the building rose, where lives the family of Abdelkader, is the home of ten families of different nationalities, six of which must be disposed of in the month of June.

His neighbors, an iraqi family from Baghdad, are in a high vulnerability with a father in a wheelchair and a 5 year old girl with a disability cannot eat or drink alone.

“Despite our difficult situation, the NGO warned us that we should leave our accommodation at the end of June,” sighed Asil Nadawi who cares for five children.

“With my father and my sister with disabilities, how the Greek government can throw us in the street ? This is cruel!”, said the eldest son, Mustafa.

“You have to leave the place”

The Greek government considers, however, this policy is necessary to ensure that the accommodations are of benefit to more than 32 500 asylum-seekers living in squalid conditions in the camps of the islands overcrowded in the north of the Aegean sea.

“It is normal that those who are in Greece for a longer time to leave their place. It is necessary to put a limit on it and that the refugees integrate and find a job”, said to AFP Manos Logothetis, secretary of the department of asylum in greece.

But, for the spokesperson of the UNHCR in Greece, Boris Cheshirkov, this decision is a matter of concern. “The refugees will have to leave this form of assistance without effective access to social services in greece. In theory, they were entitled to assistance but, in reality, for those who do not speak the language, navigate the bureaucracy of the Greek can be extremely difficult.”

The Greek government maintains that the refugees can apply to the program “HELIOS”, established by the IOM (international Organization for migration) which allows them to follow Greek language courses and to receive an allowance for their housing.

But this program is not suitable, note Eva Giannakaki, in charge of housing issues for the NGO Solidarity Now. “The refugees are supposed to find themselves a home, however, they face xenophobic attitudes of the owners, of the administrative procedures difficult to understand and the lack of offers of cheap apartments”.

Desperate, Abdelkader has participated in the end of may, several demonstrations of refugees in front of the european Commission representation in Athens: “there is no integration in Greece, even the government sees that we are only of passage (…) the best solution would be, without a doubt, other european countries and we open their doors ?”.

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