Ecumenical Refugee Programme

Ecumenical Refugee Programme

The Office under the title “Ecumenical Refugee Programme” has been operating since 1994 and its mission is to provide information services, counseling and legal support for asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants. More particular its activities include the following:

  • Provision of information, legal advice and legal assistance at all stages of the national asylum procedure (interventions, referral, supportive documents and mediation in the administration in order to achieve access to the procedures or other rights arising from the legal status). These services can be provided in the headquarters of the service in Athens or anywhere else required for program implementation needs (temporary accommodation places of PoC, sites, facilities, etc.) and include interpretation and escort services to administrative offices.
  • Provision of legal aid (representation by lawyer or legal advisor before the competent administrative authorities, drafting of memoranda including legal and other information as regards the country of origin of the beneficiaries, advocacy on individual cases regarding a home country for advocacy of with legal material and information for individual cases as regards refugee status etc).
  • Providing legal aid to asylum seekers or immigrants for family reunification with family members living in another European country.
  • Legal assistance for request of annulment of a final negative decision on the asylum claim by the administration before the Administrative Court (only in exceptional cases).
  • Legal assistance for filing an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights under the ECHR.
  • Visits to detention centers or detention facilities or First Reception Centres in the Attica region or at entrance points of the Greek territory in order to provide information, legal advice and legal aid (objections, representations before the Administrative Court, or before criminal courts on cases of illegal entry or residence) to imprisoned asylum seekers or persons in need of international protection.
  • Drafting update reports and memoranda on the particular circumstances in the countries or regions of origin of asylum seekers or immigrants including information and literature for reasons of advocacy and public awareness, particularly in situations of generalized violence, civil strife or war.
  • Advocacy before the authorities on matters concerning statutory rights of people of the target group, according to the Greek and international law. The Advocacy includes written contributions for the elaboration of legislative decrees by the Competent Authorities regarding asylum and immigration.
  • Networking and cooperation with actors of civil society, national and international NGOs (CCME, ECRE, Diakonisches Werk, CEC, Caritas, Pro-Asyl, ICMC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc.) with International Organisations (UNHCR, IOM), national and international advocacy networks of Human Rights (INTERNATIONAL Detention Coalition, etc.) to coordinate awareness campaigns on issues such as asylum, refugees, unaccompanied minors, detention, racism, xenophobia, etc.
  • participation in national, European and other international working groups to study problems and monitor implemented or proposed policies of the EU, on asylum procedures, refugees, unaccompanied minors and undocumented migrants, trafficking and exploitation of persons in order to elaborate and plan proposals and recommendations and conduct advocacy.
  • participation in special advisory committees in order to support the issues of foreigners, refugees and migrants and providing expertise in specific international Organisations, Labour Groups and NGOs (Council of Europe, CCME, Eurodiaconia, etc.).
  • Conducting educational seminars addressed to authorities and actors of local communities with the cooperation of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Greece, the Ministry of Protection and other competent ministries regarding migrant issues (asylum in Greece), legislation, practices and other specific issues using specially prepared training materials.
  • Close cooperation and dissemination of the office’s know-how and expertise to Holy Dioceses or parishes wishing to implement actions in order to assist migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and request the assistance of the Office to develop and implement relevant programs.
  • The social support of vulnerable cases, including improving living conditions, finding a safe residence, social integration assistance, referrals to organizations for specialized services regarding housing, food, Greek language courses, psychological support, etc.
  • Support on health issues (written references to hospitals, communication and cooperation with the social services of hospitals, doctors, etc.).
  • Cooperation and coordination with parishes in order to provide material assistance to PoC and particularly vulnerable cases.
  • Implementing programs and activities in support of the target groups funded by national and / or international funds.
  • Conducting the correspondence regarding the implemented programs and keeping relevant records.
  • Keeping files with personal data of the beneficiaries in compliance with the relevant legislation.
  • Accepts graduates of legal and political studies for (unpaid) on the job training (reception, legal aid and social support to persons of the target group -see Art. 11 para. 2 of the Statute).