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The research was done in collaboration with the University of the Aegean, which is based in Lesbos. Around 40 participants representing members of ADEDY, the Managing Board and staff of ADEDY Koinoniko Polykentro, academics and journalists came to launch the report. Members of the Executive of ADEDY expressed strong support to the study.
“Despite suffering austerity cuts, public services are called to respond to an unprecedented large-scale humanitarian crisis and have done so under adverse, if not impossible, conditions,” says Mr. G. Petropoulos, member of the Executive Committee of ADEDY.
“We need to find a permanent and sustainable solution to the situation of refugees in Greece. We should welcome and integrate them in our communities, and not contain them,” says Mr G. Koutsioubelis, also an ADEDY Executive Committee member, referring to the “hotspot” areas where migrants and asylum seekers are kept.
In the summer of 2015 through the beginning of 2016, the Greek island of Lesbos received an influx of thousands of refugees arriving in boats across the Aegean Sea. During this period, an estimated 500,000 arrived on the island in transit to other parts of Europe. At the frontlines and working alongside the State, international organizations, the residents and civil society organizations, were the public service workers of the municipality of Lesvos, providing the services ranging from reception, registration, health care, accommodation and processing of asylum applications.
The study investigates how the local authority and the workers surmounted the challenges of service delivery in the midst of the unprecedented number of arrivals, the impact of the phenomenon on the public services before and after the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement that took effect in March 2016, and its present implications on the needs of the refugees and their host communities.
“The image of the Syrian boy who drowned trying to reach Europe tormented us all. But this research brings the positive side by highlighting the solidarity of public service workers and the community in welcoming migrants and refugees. Parallel to our mobilisations on the streets against austerity cuts, is our contribution to public policy to address the refugee situation in Greece,” says Giorgios Gioulos, President of ADEDY Koinoniko Polykentro.
Presenting the conclusions of the study was Michalis Psimitis, head of the research team of the Aegean University, which conducted the study.
“We need to capitalise on the experience gained from the refugee crisis and work to improve capacity, resources, better planning and coordination of the public services in crisis response. For we fully understand that a properly functioning public service is critical in the promotion of human rights, sustainable integration of migrants and refugees and promoting welfare for all,” says Psimitis.
Addressing the participants in the launch, Genevieve Gencianos, PSI Migration Programme Coordinator says, “We fully welcome the study and look forward to working with our affiliates in building our evidence base, as we continue to amplify the voice of public service workers in the protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees, fight racism and xenophobia and promote inclusion.”
The full English translation of the report will be available shortly.