ICMC scales up operations protecting refugees and supporting the asylum system in Greece

Athens, 20 July 2016 - In order to provide better assistance and protection to migrants and refugees coming into the European Union through Greece, ICMC has recently scaled up its operations by recruiting and deploying 93 staff members, who will support the activities of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) in crucial locations across the country.

A group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after traveling in an inflatable raft from Turkey.A group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after traveling in an inflatable raft from Turkey. Photo: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell According to figures recently released by the International Organization for Migration, over 238,000 migrants and refugees have reached the European shores through the Mediterranean since January 2016. Of these, more than 158,000 followed the Eastern Mediterranean route, setting sail from the Turkish coasts and entering the European Union through Greece. The vast majority have fled horrible abuses and dangers in conflict zones in the Middle East: almost half are Syrians, while many others come from Afghanistan and Iraq. 38% of all the incoming people are children, UNHCR reports. All of them are in great need of protection and information on access to the asylum procedure, the relocation scheme, and family reunification.

A partner of UNHCR’s in Greece since 2010, ICMC has long been in charge of recruiting and deploying highly qualified professionals in support of UNHCR’s operations in Greece, both on the mainland and on the islands. As the United Nations refugee agency is currently expanding its presence in the country and strengthening its support to the Greek authorities, ICMC was tasked with the selection of  increasing numbers of deployment staff to help receive, advise and assist the many refugees and persons in need of international protection who are stranded in Greece.

Some of these experts, who possess a long-standing experience in Refugee Status Determination procedures, are deployed to the regional asylum offices around the country; some have put their technical expertise at the service of the Central Asylum Service in Athens, providing legal assistance, information analysis or project support; others strengthen the efforts of local authorities in pre-registration, access to the asylum procedure, family reunification and relocation scheme to other European countries. By the end of 2016, ICMC will further upscale its program through the deployment of a total of 180 staff dedicated, among other duties, to registration and interpretation services, capacity building and quality control activities.

Last May, ICMC’s experts deployed to Greece were among the recipients of UNHCR’s 2015 Award for Excellence in Service, through which High Commissioner Filippo Grandi rewarded UNHCR affiliate workforce, including personnel deployed by partner agencies like ICMC. This workforce, Grandi explained with recognition, is crucial in “allowing UNHCR the flexibility required to rapidly respond to evolving and ongoing emergencies”.