It’s summer now and holiday time is approaching. But Mobile Info Team will keep continuing its operations over the summer months, as the need for information and support still persists with the asylum seekers in Greece. In this newsletter, you can find out more about our actions to shed lights on illegal pushbacks at the Greek border, how we share our knowledge with other organizations, and how it is possible for asylum seekers and refugees to prove their educational qualification without papers. We wish everyone a beautiful and sunny summer! 🙂
In the last few months, our advocacy officer Kirsten has spoken with a lot of individuals that have been illegally pushed back at the Greek-Turkish land border. According to our experience – and to reports by other groups and organizations – it seems like the number of pushbacks have increased markedly, and the behavior of the involved border police has also become more violent. Additionally, we have received more and more testimonies from individuals who, in a chain reaction, have been pushed back from Greece to Turkey and then from there to Syria. This makes the pushbacks potentially life threatening, if asylum seekers without individual assessment of their needs of protection face the threat of being pushed back to the deadly danger they were fleeing from in the first place.
To give asylum seekers a possibility to report their pushback experience on their own and not only rely on organizations collecting their testimonies, we posted on our Facebook page about the Frontex complaint mechanism, where victims of mistreatment and pushback by Frontex and border police staff can report these claims. This complaint mechanism is so far not really known amongst asylum seekers. We hope that, if a significant amount of complaints and reports are reaching the public, then finally steps will be taken so that this illegal practice at the borders of Europe will stop. To contribute to this effort, we will publish our own pushback report in the near future. We will keep you updated about this in our next newsletters.
As Mobile Info Team is now already on the ground for more than 3 years and has, through its continuous work, earned the trust of a lot of asylum seekers, migrants and refugees, we are in a unique position to hear news and developments directly from the ground. Additionally, our highly-trained interpreters, who are often asylum seekers themselves, provide us with invaluable insights into what is going on at the moment. When, for example, the so called “Caravan of Hope” was happening, we had already heard about it weeks beforehand and so had the opportunity to have already evaluated the situation.
Because of this, we frequently get requests from other organizations that are doing missions to Greece or are interested in the situation, to meet and share our knowledge and insights with them. In June, for example, we met with a group of lawyers from the Italian association “Associazione Studi Giuridici Immigrazione” (ASGI) and discussed the current situation with regard to both the asylum procedure and the pushbacks. More examples of where and how we are able to share our knowledge and experience include: our participation in a report by Refugees Right Europe for the United Nations Committee Against Torture and a Dutch filmmaker consulting us in preparation of her documentary about unaccompanied minors.
One of the difficulties asylum seekers and refugees are normally facing is a lack of documentation to substantiate their prior educational or work experience. Often asylum seekers are happy to have survived the escape, and paperwork is just a secondary concern. But this becomes a severe problem in the country of protection, because in Europe a lot of paperwork is required to enrol in university or apply for certain jobs.
To address this issue, the Council of Europe has, together with UNHCR, created the so-called “European Qualification Passport for Refugees” (EQPR). Asylum seekers and refugees in multiple European countries (e.g. Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, France, or the UK) can undergo an official assessment of their claimed educational and working experience, and receive a certificate, the EQPR, to be able to prove relevant experience and skills.
The EQPR is so far a pilot project, which will hopefully become permanent. But unfortunately, at this moment in time, there is not a lot of information about it available online and not many of the target population know about it. To change this, the Mobile Info Team reached out to the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Education in Greece to get clarify how to apply, the selection process, and in which situations the EQPR can be used. All this information was compiled in a post on Facebook, which reached more than 10.000 people. Additionally, we were able to clarify many follow-up questions that reached us on Facebook and our hotline.
If you want to know more about what we do, see pictures from our work or have a look at our team, please go to our website: