What do we do?
There are more than 60,000 refugees in Greece and an overwhelming demand for information to understand what is happening to them.
As an organisation that has been working with information for refugees for the past two years in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Holland and the Greek Islands and mainland Greece, we are aware that asylum seekers in Greece are struggling to understand the processes which can result in them facing deportion after receiving a negative decision.
Unaccompanied minors in particular are responsible for their own asylum applications and struggle to understand what they need to do access their rights. Refugees in general are struggling to integrate into a destabilised and bureaucratic Greek economy and society. Survival becomes paramount.
Watch this video made by our partners Translators Without Borders on the situation facing asylum seekers in Greece.
People from the refugee community need to be able to communicate with the authorities, service providers and legal advisers about their situation. When this is not possible, vulnerable individuals may be unable to access appropriate guidance or care.
We make it our mission to provide people with information in their mother tongue in a format that they prefer. This gives people knowledge and the opportunity they need to take back some control over their own lives in situations where they would otherwise be powerless.
We source information: checking dates, legality and rumour to produce, translate and distribute accurate information for refugees. The information we provide is focused on the bureaucratic processes in Greece - from asylum in Greece to family reunification and relocation, support for unaccompanied minors and vulnerable people to appealing against negative decisions.
We create documents, videos and audio files to get information to refugees in a format that works for them. Many refugees cannot read and this is particularly true of minors. We get into camps, squats and meeting places on the mainland to get information to refugees directly - to give them the best chance of understanding the system and preparing them for the various stages within it
We train volunteers so that they have a rudimentary but accurate understanding of the processes that they can share with refugees.
RefuComm recently carried out research on the Greek Island of Chios in partnership with Translators without Borders. The aim of the study was to investigate information provision and comprehension for refugees on the island.
The study found that there was no information provided for or accessible by refugees. This finding is in line with those of other human rights organisations working in the area. The authorities and organisations in charge of information provision have not been able to provide refugees with information in suitable formats. As of August 1st 2017, many of these organisations have left the Greek Islands because their funding has been stopped.
Refugees repeatedly raised the question of whether the absence of information about the asylum process was a result of incompetence from those tasked with providing it, or whether the lack of information was a deliberate attempt to leave refugees unprepared for asylum interviews, and thus less likely to be granted asylum.
The study further found that refugees experience significant difficulty in understanding the information provided. Format was an issue for those unable to read, whilst the lack of internet connectivity in refugee camps and inability to purchase data for mobile phones meant that information available on the internet was also inaccessible. The majority of refugees preferred information available in video format.
The study was carried out by interviewing 100 refugees, both male and female, living on Chios island. Researchers interviewed members of the three main ethnic groups on the Island, each in their preferred language: Arabic, Farsi or Urdu.
Evidence showed that women, unaccompanied minors and people who don't read in particular, appreciated the direct availability of the information.
We believe we have found the ideal solution to the lack of information provision about the Greek asylum process. This comes in the form of micro SD cards pre-loaded with all of the information from our website in both document and video form.
Micro SD cards are fantastic because they can provide all the necessary information in one place, with no need for internet connection so it doesn't waste precious data allowance, nor take forever to load the videos and audio files, and people can save copies of their important documents in the spare storage space.
Finally, the SD cards can also be removed from the phones and hidden in case of phone confiscation by the authorities.
These videos provide a short insight into our findings and the effectiveness of the SD cards we provided:
We are now planning to roll out approximately 3,000 micro SD cards to refugees who arrived on the Greek Islands this year.
We need your support.