As of May 2017, around 62,000 asylum seekers are still stranded in Greece waiting for a decision on their asylum claims.
There are serious structural problems within the asylum system. The Greek Asylum Service has been overwhelmed by the crisis, leading to even longer waiting times than would usually be expected; this, in turn, causes immense frustration and uncertainty. The rights of asylum seekers appear to be a secondary concern, and most lack an understanding of their options and asylum procedures. Access to accurate and reliable information is limited, leading to frustration, uncertainty, and hopelessness. Ill-informed asylum seekers act in confusion and desperation, not only against their own best interests but also to the detriment of the states and local populations who bear the legal and moral imperative of providing refuge. States spend more than necessary on inefficient procedures. Local populations share in the burden and go unacknowledged. A lack of information, communication, and clarity is causing re-victimisation and the exacerbation of a crisis.
The Mobile Info Team aims to fill these gaps in Greece. We make weekly visits to several camps, private accommodation spaces and social initiatives for asylum seekers in the north of Greece. In addition, we provide information through social media. Facebook has proven especially important to us as we now use it to update our over 15,000 followers, mostly asylum seekers, on new asylum-related developments and to field questions on a daily basis. We also provide individual case support with EU relocation and family reunification procedures. We engage with lawyers, social workers, and asylum authorities both in Greece and abroad to follow up on the status of individual applications and resolve any complications. We collaborate with networks and organisations advocating for the rights of refugees and migrants rights on a regional, national and international level.
Reliable information is sometimes more valuable than food or clothes. It empowers people and gives them an overview of their rights, obligations and options. It prevents them from taking unnecessary risks and gives them the ability to act in dignity.