Thirty-six civil society organizations have sent a letter to Pope Francis regarding the refugee situation in view of his upcoming visit to Greece.
In a letter released at an online press conference on Thursday, December 2, the NGOs asked, among other things, to meet with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and inform him about the living conditions of refugees in Greece, as well as the need to support refugees quest for access to asylum with a message of solidarity towards our persecuted fellow humans.
Kos hosts the only pre-removal detention centre on the Eastern Aegean islands. Since January 2020, the Greek authorities have detained nearly every asylum seeker who has arrived on the island of Kos automatically upon arrival. This has historically included survivors of gender-based violence and torture, families with young children, elderly persons, LGBTQIA people, and people suffering from serious physical and mental health conditions. The automatic detention of asylum seekers is illegal under Greek, EU, and international human rights law, and yet the situation on Kos remains relatively unknown.
Over the past five years, an entirely avoidable and predictable policy-driven humanitarian crisis has been unfolding in the Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros, and Kos, with devasting consequences for the people trapped there. After fleeing their homes and surviving harrowing journeys to Europe, the indefinite containment, limbo, and systematic violence in Greece further traumatises people seeking protection.