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Greek Forum of Refugees’ position on the National Integration Strategy

Not an integration plan, rather an exclusion one

The refugees’ and migrants’ inclusion to the Greek and the European society remains a firm position of our association.

The Greek Forum of Refugees, an association of refugee and migrant communities, was created on a purpose to operate as the bridge among newcomers and the Greek host society in the context of reception, acceptance, interaction and mutual support. To this day, our association works passionately towards this direction, acting as the mediator between refugees and migrants and State agencies, empowering and promoting the institutional representation and participation of the people that are anxiously searching for ways to restart their lives. As an association of refugee and migrant communities we consider integration process as one of the most critical cases for supporting and achieving social cohesion.

Throughout the years of our interaction with the State authorities we have been explicitly calling for the conception of a holistic strategic plan that will set up the procedures of refugees’ and migrants’ integration according to the State’s obligations and capacity. We have made it clear that our services will be always at the State’s disposal for contributing and co – designing a plan that will facilitate this process.

The text that the Ministry of Migration and Asylum set to public consultation from January 7, 2022 to January 22, 2022 was defined as a “National Integration Strategy”. However, it is quite clear that this text lacks both the strategy and the procedures for achieving integration of refugees and migrants to the host society. In fact, the very reference to the migrant population residing in Greece is totally missing – with all what this might imply for the inclusivity and adequacy of this plan. Moreover, it is evident that even the progress that has been made by other State factors such as the local authorities, is, also, absent along with the best practices that have derived through the civic society organizations’ field throughout the years of Greece’s and Europe’s engagement with the migration phenomenon.

All of the above clearly indicate the lack of prior mapping of good practices in the field of reception and inclusion of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. The non – consideration of significant tools, such as for instance, the Integration Councils for Migrants and Refugees (consultative bodies to the municipal authorities where refugees’ and migrants’ participation and public representation is facilitated) and the Integration Centers for Migrants (Centers that provide a number of important services to refugees and migrants), underlines their strategic absence. In fact, the lack of specific and defined steps to enhance the accessibility of this particular population to the educational process an the labor market reflects the will or rather the lack of will of this particular text.

It is, honestly, a pity that the prospects of empowering the process of refugees’ and migrants’ inclusion are not perceived by decision makers in such a critical and historical juncture of the Greek state and the European Union in general.

People with such strong motivation for life, like refugees and migrants, should not be discouraged, but rather encouraged to be included in plans that aim to foster social progress on the perspective of improving the citizens’ well – being.

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