Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Greece

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Greece , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 2003, Greece hosted an estimated 5,200 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection, including an estimated 5,200 asylum claims pending, an unknown number of persons granted humanitarian stays of removal, and just over 30 persons granted asylum. The authorities rejected some 5,000 asylum claims. Final statistics were not available for 2003.

Around 8,400 persons applied for asylum in Greece in 2003.

Given the manifest deficiencies of the Greek asylum process see ( and the abysmal approval rate that is likely a result, USCR considers that an adequate process would have granted at least as many applicants asylum as the Ministry of Public Order (MPO) granted humanitarian stay of removal. Therefore USCR counts such persons among refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection.

New Developments

The Greek Helsinki Monitor estimated that Greek authorities refused to accept about half of all asylum applications. In May, non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International and the Greek Refugee Council criticized the government's denial of lawyers, interpreters, and telephones to asylum seekers in detention. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Greece to set up an independent body for asylum appeals, and to increase its budget for processing of claims.

The World Organization Against Torture reported that several unaccompanied children were detained with adults. In one case, a 17-year-old Iraqi tried several time to submit an asylum application, but authorities refused it. In February 2003, Greek police arrested him for illegal entry and the same day, without counsel, a court tried and sentenced him to 4 months imprisonment. Greek law permits the detention of asylum seekers for up to 3 months, but the Greek Helsinki Monitor reported that authorities held them longer in reception areas.

UNHCR noted that persons who enter Greece irregularly are often detained pending deportation proceedings in centers that do not meet minimum standards. Greece also did not have separate facilities for men and women. An Italian member of the European Parliament, quoted in an Italian paper, spoke of the "barbarity of certain reception camps, where there is no longer the least respect for human dignity." According to the paper, she described a camp in Pendli, 80 km from Athens, as "huts made of sheet metal drowned in filth and excrement."

In May, over 600 Kosovar Roma who had been living in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM) sought to enter Greece to seek asylum. Although fYROM authorities at the border prevented them from leaving, the Greek government also sent riot police to prevent their entry reportedly because they did not have travel documents and there was no war-like situation in Kosovo.

In October 7, landmines killed 9 Pakistanis crossing the border from Turkey, and hundreds of asylum seekers and migrants in past years. In September Greece ratified the 1997 Ottawa Treaty prohibiting landmines – which Turkey has signed but not ratified – but will not likely de-mine its side of the border until Turkey ratifies the treaty.

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