Immediate decongestion of initial reception centres in the Eastern Aegean and the relocation of refugees housed in these centres to other EU countries

30 August 2016
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Notis Marias (ECR)

In the midst of the tourist season, violent incidents have erupted at hotspots on the islands of the Eastern Aegean, damaging the reputation of these islands and leading to a decline in tourism, while also putting the security of islanders at risk.

For instance: on 2 June 2016 violent incidents occurred between refugees of various nationalities at a hotspot located at Vathi (Samos) in which six people were injured and a small fire broke out; on 10 July 2016 at the hotspot at Lepida (Leros) approximately 200 refugees and illegal migrants staged a mass breakout and occupied a public space in protest at their living conditions; on 19 July 2016 and again on 6 August 2016 at the VIAL hotspot on Chios, refugees and illegal migrants staged a violent protest within and outside their accommodation facilities at the slow pace of the asylum-issuing procedures and their living conditions.

As the UN High Commissioner has stated, the longer the waiting period of refugees, the more tension there will be and the more incidents at the reception facilities.

Could the Commission say what immediate steps it will take to decongest these hotspots and speed up the relocation of refugees housed there to other EU countries?


Answer to a written question – Immediate decongestion of initial reception centres in the Eastern Aegean and the relocation of refugees housed in these centres to other EU countries – E-006374/2016

16 January 2017
Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission
The Commission closely monitors the situation and has regularly reported on the state of play of the hotspots in Greece and Italy(1) and on the implementation of the relocation and resettlement,(2) which includes measures implemented and proposed to accelerate relocation, and of the EU-Turkey Statement(3).

The implementation of the hotspot approach in a Member State is primarily within the responsibility of the Member State concerned.

The steady — though considerably reduced — flow of arrivals and the slow pace of returns have put the reception capacities of overcrowded hotspots in Greece under increasing stress. The situation can only be alleviated by reducing the number of people required to stay on the islands. This needs the faster processing of asylum applications at all instances, to allow for increased returns to Turkey of those whose asylum applications are deemed as unfounded or inadmissible.

The reception facilities should be swiftly expanded. Unaccompanied minors and asylum-seekers with admissible cases should also be urgently transferred to dedicated facilities on the mainland.

To address this situation, the EU Coordinator for the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement has elaborated a Joint Action Plan together with the Greek authorities which is annexed to the last report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement adopted on 8 December 2016.

It has been drawn up to acknowledge the additional efforts needed on all sides: from Greece, the Member States, the European Border and Coast Guard, the European Asylum Support Office, the Commission and International Organisations (the International Organisation for Migration and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in order to secure full implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, and in particular to alleviate the pressure on the Greek islands

(1) COM(2015) 490 final, COM(2015) 510 final, COM(2015) 678 final, COM(2015) 679 final, COM(2016) 85 final.
(2) Last report adopted on 8 December 2016: COM(2016) 791 final. Previous reports: COM(2016) 720 final, COM(2016) 165 final, COM(2016) 222 final, COM(2016) 360 final, COM(2016) 416 final, COM(2016) 480 final, COM(2016) 636 final.
(3) COM(2016) 231 final, COM(2016) 349 final, COM(2016) 634 final, COM(2016) 792 final.

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