Refugee Women in Greece: Where Do We Go from Here?
As the world commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action and the 20th anniversary of the UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, refugee women and girls stranded on Greek islands live in catastrophic conditions after the fires at the Moria camp in September.
Long delays in processing asylum claims have caused many asylum seekers to remain in the camps for more than a year, and with the added pressure of new arrivals, conditions are rapidly deteriorating. The overcrowding in Greek camps is especially dangerous for particularly vulnerable groups, including women, children, unaccompanied minors, the elderly, people with disabilities, LGBTQI+ asylum seekers, and people with preexisting medical conditions. The risk of sexual violence, harassment, and rape is high. Sexual and gender-based violence survivors, along with other vulnerable groups, should be fast-tracked through the reception procedures to more appropriate facilities elsewhere on the islands and the mainland. But a severe shortage of social service providers, such as doctors, psychologists, lawyers, social workers, and interpreters, is causing delays in the reception and asylum procedures.
On this year’s International Day of Human Rights, the German Bar Association, Oxfam Germany, and Open Society are inviting their partners from NGOs in Greece to discuss the human rights of women refugees and girls—with the new urgency created by the fires and COVID-19. This conversation will examine both international and national protection and participation gaps for refugee women and girls in Greece.
Natalia-Rafaella Kafkoutsou is a lawyer and advocacy officer for the Greek Council of Refugees.
Efi Latsoudi is a founder of the community-led Pikpa refugee camp on Lesvos, which was evicted in October. She is part of Lesvos Solidarity and was awarded UNHCR’s 2016 Nansen Refugee Award for her activism.
Magdalena Majkowska-Tomkin is acting deputy director for the Open Society Initiative for Europe.
Kavita N. Ramdas is director of the Open Society Women’s Rights Program.
Christina Voulimenea is the legal coordinator for the European Lawyers in Lesvos.
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