Marlow Refugee Action caught up with volunteer Jasmine Doust for the latest on the situation at Samos Legal Centre…
Like the rest of the world, the threat of COVID-19 has left it’s mark on Samos, exacerbating the already hectic situation.
Yet the work continues for the Samos Volunteers and we are actively engaging with relevant agencies to ensure those at the highest risk are catered for in this crisis.
The UN is being cooperative in prioritising the elderly and seriously ill for accommodation or transfer and discussions are continuing in relation to evaluating the possibility of carrying on requests for interim measures at the European Court of Human Rights when relevant.
Communication is regular with the Dublin Unit in Athens and NGOs abroad regarding family reunification procedures, mostly concerning unaccompanied children and the team continues informing beneficiaries on the current asylum procedure situation in Greece through whatsapp broadcasts (producing our own info tools and translations).
Whatsapp has also been vital in sharing information informing beneficiaries on the current measures against covid-19 in Greece and communicating with other NGOs as a monitoring actor for the legal situation in Samos.
Sadly though, in line with all we’ve heard from Avocats sans Frontières. the reality is that all asylum applications are suspended at least until the beginning of April and new arrivals are held in detention, without receiving legal aid.
All interviews with the relevant authorities have been cancelled whilst access to the camp has also been restricted. This in part is down to the fact that the population of both the camp and the rest of the island includes many elderly and vulnerable people who would be highly susceptible should the COVID-19 epidemic take hold.
ASF have also taken the difficult decision to repatriate volunteers and will not deploy anybody, even from mainland Greece, in the upcoming weeks.
AND YET! Despite all the usual chaos being made even harder by the threat of the virus taking hold, there is some light and positive news.
We got a request for interim measures accepted by the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of a pregnant woman (9 months) who has to be transferred to a decent accommodation and granted appropriate healthcare and Austria have accepted a family reunification for an elderly couple from Afghanistan.
The husband is in Samos and obviously would be at high risk in case of outbreak but he applied with our counsellors in late January to be reunified with his wife who’s already a refugee in Austria and we’ve had a success.