In Chios, we provide legal aid to asylum seekers in the EU hotspot Vial. We work in close cooperation with our Greek partners.
The EU Hotspot Approach was presented by the European Commission in May 2015. With the entry into force of the EU-Turkey Statement on 20 March 2016, the political purpose of the EU Hotspots in Greece has been overhauled completely. Since 20 March 2016, the main purpose is the implementation of the return policy. This has severe repercussions on reception conditions and asylum procedures in the EU Hotspots. The mandatory systematic detention scheme has meanwhile been replaced by restrictions on the asylum seeker’s freedom of movement to the respective island. Reception conditions in the still overcrowded hotspots remain dire. The situation is unacceptable from a humanitarian perspective.
We address the violation of fundamental rights of asylum seekers staying in the EU hotspots by providing legal support to the concerned people on the ground, and at the same time raising awareness in Germany and on EU level.
Our legal aid services in Chios focus on counselling in the first instance procedure as well as on family reunification under the Dublin III Regulation. This includes informing asylum seekers about the hotspot procedure and the EU Turkey Deal, and providing legal assistance in the asylum procedure. For the second instance procedure i.e. an appeal against a rejection of a claim for international protection based on the safe third country concept, we regularly refer cases to our Greek colleagues. From 2019 onwards we also take action against illegal rejections of asylum claims ourselves.
Asylum seekers who are eligible for family reunification under the Dublin III Regulation are exempted from the border procedure and therefore not subject to the scheme of return to Turkey. Our presence in Chios allows us to identify these cases as soon as possible and to refer them to the procedure for family reunification. We assist in the whole Dublin procedure from the take charge request to the transfer. If necessary, we file interim measures to administrative courts in Germany in order to enforce the legally granted rights of families.
THE SITUATION IN VIAL - INHUMANE CONDITIONS
The EU Hotspot VIAL is a refugee camp and also a management and reception complex. The center is located in a decommissioned aluminum factory and is still partly used as a waste separation and recycling facility. At present Vial acommodates at least 2,000 people in tents and lightly secured containers. Many more occupy makeshift structures which leave inhabitants entirely exposed to the elements, and to other residents of the camp. These are situated outside the official camp, and are constructed from materials such as tarpaulin, wooden pallets and blankets. The camp's capacity is wholly inadequate.
EXCHANGE OF LETTERS WITH THE EUROPEAN COMISSION
25 JANUARY, 2019
Fourth letter to the European Commission emphasizing the political responsibility of the EU and making clear the role of NGOs is not to take over State tasks
04 NOVEMBER, 2018
Answer by the European Commission referring to the responsibility of Greek authorities and financial support
12 JANUARY, 2018
Second Letter to the EC following up on the first and stating clear demands that need to be adressed
10 AUGUST, 2018
Third letter to the EC following up the meeting from April, where promises had been made that were not implemented
22 NOVEMBER, 2017
(Quick) answer by the EC underlining the efforts the Commission is taking
Meeting with Deputy General-Director Simon Mordue of Commission on Chios, adressing core issues
06 NOVEMBER, 2017
First Letter to the EC on the inadequate and inhuman conditions in Vial, as winter was approaching
In a first letter on 06/11/2017, we drew the attention of the European Commission to the untenable conditions in the Chios hotspot, for which the European Union bears a share of responsibility. This has resulted in an exchange of letters and a meeting has already taken place. We welcome the fact that the Commission is dealing with these concerns but however stress the fact that, until now, the situation in Vial did not change.
You find the letters we exchanged here and on statewatch.org.
Voupalou 16, 82100 Chios