HIAS in Greece

Photo: Andrea Bonetti
(Andrea Bonetti)

According to the United Nations, 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave their country, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally. This ongoing crisis has driven thousands of people to make perilous journeys across the Mediterranean by boat in search of safety in Europe.

HIAS is providing lifesaving protection and legal services for refugees in Greece. Our team is based on the island of Lesvos, the landing spot for the majority of refugees who have arrived in Greece – over 600,000 people since the beginning of 2015.

In the first eight months of 2016, Syrians accounted for nearly half of all sea arrivals to Greece and arrivals from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are also common. Many of these refugees are particularly vulnerable; many have traveled with children, have medical issues and/or are survivors of violence and torture.

Legal Protection

HIAS Greece serves refugees in the Kara Tepe and Moria refugee sites. HIAS operates out of an office based in Kara Tepe and is the only organization providing free legal aid there. HIAS also uses a mobile legal services vehicle which allows staff to quickly respond to the needs of refugees where they are located. 

In addition, HIAS also operates in Moria to assist refugees and asylum-seekers who are residing there. Our legal experts and translators work through a variety of channels to educate refugees on their rights. HIAS staff provide information and guidance about the complex process of seeking protection, advocates for those with protection needs, and ensures that all displaced people are treated with dignity.

HIAS helps register newly arrived refugees and provides legal representation during interviews with the authorities in the asylum process. HIAS assists refugees in accessing family reunification and relocation procedures. In addition, HIAS conducts legal orientation sessions for refugees, providing them with the information they need to navigate intricate asylum and migration procedures. Working closely with lawyers, civil society and humanitarian agencies, HIAS is working to expand the capacity of the refugee protection sector in Greece, so that all those seeking protection will be better served.