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Asylum Seekers and refugees discuss solutions and challenges in annual Greece participatory assessment

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today published the results of an annual participatoryassessment report on the concerns of asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece abouttheir current situation and future prospects and risks and how  to address them. 

The participatory assessment was concluded by holding separate discussions with women,girls, boys, and men, to gather information from their perspective on their daily lives, theprotection risks they face and to hear their proposed solutions.

Under the Inter-Agency Participatory Assessment 2018 (PA), Focus Group Discussionswere led by 41 partners from authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) andother United   Nations  (UN) agencies   between  January  and July  this  year  across  thecountry. 

 The   annual   consultation   is   aimed   at   ensuring   the   participation   of   asylum-seekers and refugees in the design and review of humanitarian programmes in Greece,and placing them at the centre of decision-making concerning their protection and well-being.The main focus is on the risks, challenges, and opportunities as they shift from receivingfree accommodation and cash assistance to becoming self-sufficient and integrating withthe Greek society. 

This year’s  PA  also  focuses on  communication  with  communities(CwC)   and   other  important protection issues, while the survey aims at   identifying strengths  within  the  communities  that could contribute to improving the humanitarianresponse. The survey is based on direct consultations with 1,436 asylum-seekers and refugeesfrom a wide cross section of society, including people with specific needs, the elderly,LGBTI and unaccompanied and separated children.

The focus group discussions were held on islands, the mainland,  urban   areas and state-run  accommodation sites and Reception and Identification Centres (RIC). People from 26 countries took part. Participants discussed a number of key issues, and they identified priorities and madespecific and concrete recommendations.

In general, with the increasing focus on self-reliance,  inclusion  and  integration,  participants  sought  support  through access to thelabour market, Greek language classes, more provision of information, and inclusion inprogrammes (including education) and activities across Greece. Language was seen asvital. The other major concerns discussed also included unclear, delayed and lengthy asylumprocedures that cause debilitating frustration and anxiety; limited services and unclearprocedures; xenophobia and racism;   insecurity and inadequate law enforcement,including inaction over inter-communal fights; SGBV, particularly in some of the RICswhere segregation  is insufficient. 

Participants also noted too few interpreters; lack o fcommunity-based protection structures; measures to encourage co-existence with thehost community; information and interpretation provision; access to formal education forall; complaint and  reporting  mechanisms; and insufficient access to national  servicessuch as health and medical care.