Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis defended the actions taken by the Greek government with respect to asylum procedures while addressing the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
On the issue of access to healthcare, the Greek minister underlined that all children hosted on the Greek islands are vaccinated while all asylum seekers and those for whom the asylum application process has been completed, whether this has been approved or denied, have access to the national health system. Additionally, he said that the new law provides for the mandatory education of all the asylum-seekers’ children.
On the abolition of the Migration Policy Ministry, Chrisochoidis noted that migration policy in all countries is part of the interior ministry’s remit.
Asked to comment on the EU-Turkey Statement, he said that the goal was to continue its implementation because, as he said, while Turkey had undertaken to protect its borders, it appears to have recently changed its stance.
Therefore, he explained, it was imperative to guarantee the “terms and conditions” that will allow this to happen – namely, allow the EU to support the refugees stay in Turkey, on the one hand, and the protection by Turkey of the borders, on the other hand.
He also said that the goverment’s priority was the acceleration of asylum procedures, as the existing system meant that the rights of the asylum seekers were not respected and it was not possible to provide them with protection.
Finally, he said that the government’s aim is that, by the end of the year, the greater part of the refugees currently on the islands will have been transferred to safe accommodation facilities, such as hotels and apartments, on the mainland, in order to relieve overcrowding at island facilities. In this framework, priority will be given to the most vulnerable, namely families and children.
The Greek minister also noted that ‘the major wager’ for the government was the integration and incorporation of refugees in society, meaning the education of the children, jobs for their parents and ensuring both their rights and responsibilities.