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New Office on Kos - Beginning of 2020

More than 200,000 Germans spend their holidays on the East Aegean island of Kos every year. The population of the island varies from over 500,000 in summer to 30,000 in winter.

All year round - largely unnoticed by public discussion - there are about 4500 refugees on the island. The hotspot has a capacity of only 826. Many of these people are detained in the Pre Removal Detention Centre. Many for several months, women, children, families.

In the meantime, one lawyer is trying to somehow satisfy the needs - in vain, of course. Medical services are also far too scarce.

For those reasons, we are opening an office in Kos at the beginning of 2020, to help make the situation a bit more bearable and to stand up for the rights of asylum seekers.

Legal protection is a question of resources on Kos. For the European Union this is a sign of moral destitution. For every individual who arrives there seeking protection from persecution it is a personal tragedy.

Case Example from Kos

A sincerely vulnerable woman who survived extraordinary SGB violence was held unlawfully for more than four months in the Pre-Removal Detention Centre (PRDC) on Kos. She was brought handcuffed to the PRDC and was never given a reason for her detention. She survived gender-based violence in her country of origin, causing her serious gynaecological problems. On Kos, she repeatedly asked to see a doctor, a psychologist, and a lawyer, but the authorities denied her request. The only thing she received to help her with her medical issues were a few painkillers to help her sleep at night. Her situation was so dire and she became so desperate that she ultimately tried to commit suicide. Despite being a survivor of gender-based violence, the authorities detained her with men. The door that separated the room where the women slept from the men was broken, as well was the door to the shower, causing her severe stress.

The authorities conducted her asylum interview even though she told them that she felt physically and psychologically incapable of doing it that day. During the interview, requests to hand in proofs over the phone were refused and she was interrupted when she began discussing her vulnerability.

When she was finally released from the PRDC, there were no services to help her and she ended up homeless – in a self-built cardboard hut that falls down in the wind and no longer exists after rainfall.

She attempted to stay in the camp in Kos, but authorities there told her it was full and did not let her enter. Instead, she started living in a tent. Even after being released from detention she was still not able to see a doctor or psychologist despite desperately needing both.

To try to escape the dangerous conditions on Kos she decided to leave the island without permission and came to the mainland.

The European Court of Human Rights accepted our request for interim measures and obliged Greece to accommodate her in a way not amounting in a degrading or inhumane treatment in the sense of Art. 3 European Convention of Human Rights.

A report on the situation on Kos was published by Refugee Support Aegean.

The office on Kos will be challenging for us - also in terms of finances. For us it was an imperative to open it. You can support our work there. We guarantee that every donation, no matter how much, is spent on what is strictly necessary to achieve the purpose of our work.

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