Information provided by NGO HumanRights360
PRDC in Fylakio Orestiada (Pre-removal Detention Center)
There are 147 people in detention at the Pre-removal Detention Center in Fylakio Orestiada, with a capacity of 374 people, assuring that as for now no overcrowding situation exists.
The suspension of the asylum applications, applied by a legislative act, for individuals who entered Greece irregularly and were arrested by the Greek authorities after the 1st of March 2020, leaving them without the right to express their will to apply for asylum, led to very low arrival flows in Evros region during March.
The direct and strict measures taken against COVID-19 by the Greek government, also led the Greek asylum service to decide a suspension of all services to the public from 13/03/2020 till 10/04/2020, in order to protect public health and limit the further dissemination of virus COVID-19. Recently it has been announced that the suspension will be extended until 15/5/2020. During this period no registrations or asylum interviews take place, neither do notifications of asylum decisions or files of appeals.
Due to these strict measures taken against COVID-19 by the greek government, the access of the NGOs and their Lawyers to the premises of the PRDC and the detainees has temporarily been suspended till further notice. The official reply of the director of the PRDC, to relevant requests by members of the NGO’s that are active at the field, was the following: “Visits of NGOs or individuals to police and detention centers as well as their actions are suspended till further notice. Access is allowed only to those who work there… As an exception, in special cases where the physical communication of lawyers with detainees is required, and these cases need to be adequately justified, telephone contact with the director of the detention center is a prerequisite, regarding the approval or not of contacting detainees.” Therefore, the UNHCR is the only organization that has limited access within the premises and the detainees of the PRDC. Even before the above suspension, the members of the NGO’s and Lawyers had to provide an early notice, at least 3 days before the visit, in order to get an access approval and meet with the detainees.
During March there were approximately 350 arrivals, most of them from Alexandroupolis (app. 190), from Orestiada (app. 100), Komotini (app. 25) and by the sea (app. 35). Main Countries of Origin of these people are Turkey : 40%, Afghanistan: 40%, Iran : 10%, Syria : 10%. The most vulnerable cases concern families from Syria or Afghanistan or people from Turkey. None of them had the right to express their will to apply for asylum due to the current legislative act. Many families from Syria or Afghanistan remain at the PRDC with their minors, till their transfer to the camps of Malakasa or Serres. Single men are being transferred to the PRDC of Paranesti Drama or Xanthi. Since they are not asylum seekers they have been given a deportation notice. For some of them there is already a trial pending, while for others a trial is expected to take place for illegal entrance into the country, but court procedures have also been suspended. Deportations have not been officially suspended, but are so practically in view of the general travel ban, and none were yet been conducted.
On the 25/3/2020 an arrest of 7 people from Syria took place very close to Orestiada city on their attempt to cross the river Evros and since that date there was no other official arrest in Evros region till today. These newly arrived third-country nationals were transferred to the Pre-removal Detention Center in Fylakio Orestiada, which had already been disinfected both in cells and all administrative rooms and were placed in quarantine in a separate and isolated cell, for at least 14 days, during which time they did not have any access to asylum procedure, lawyers, NGOs or any other organization or service.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 restriction measures, it is estimated that 35 people were released by the PRDC either because of their vulnerability (two pregnant women from Afghanistan and Syria with their husbands and their young minors and an adult man from Iran who alleged that he suffers from cancer) or because of force majeure and the suspension of the asylum procedures (women, families, couples, young adults from Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Pakistan).
The personnel within the PRDC in Fylakio Orestiada, apart from the police staff, has been appointed by the Health Units S.A. and consists of one psychologist, two nurses and one doctor. During March a social worker and an administrative employee have been also appointed and one more doctor and interpreters are being expected to arrive soon at the PRDC. The personnel and the police assured that additionally to the disinfection within the premises, also leaflets and posters of the general secretariat for civil protection regarding COVID-19 have been placed in prominent points within the detention center.
No COVID-19 incident has yet been noticed or announced within the premises of the Preremoval Detention Center in Fylakio Orestiada.
RIC in Fylakio Orestiada (Reception and Identification Centre)
There are 241 people at the Reception and Identification Centre in Fylakio Orestiada, under registration and identification procedures, the only closed RIC in Greece. The official capacity of the RIC is 318 people, but with the appropriate space management the capacity can reach up to 340-380 people the most, assuring that as for now no overcrowding situation exists. Among the 241 people there are 160 unaccompanied and separated minors, who are under protective custody by the prosecutor’s order as a temporary guardian, until a shelter will be found for them through the National Centre for Social Solidarity (NCCS).
Within the RIC there are 4 controlled wings (A-D), with 6 containers and 1 more controlled wing with 7 containers. From the beginning of the COVID-19 restriction measures and the Agnodiki project applied in all RICs, 1 container in each wing, apart from wing E, has been reformed in order to host any future COVID-19 patient. Moreover, 2 extra containers outside of the wings have been reformed into treatment rooms for any future COVID-19 patients and protective measures among the employees and the police staff (masks, gloves, antiseptics, 2 meter distance rule, rotated physical presence, antiseptic methods to anyone that enters the RIC) have been taken.
The organizations and the institutions operating within the RIC continue to provide their services mainly via telecommute, showing compliance with the containment measures announced by the Greek government or by rotated physical presence for each member. It has been announced by the UNHCR that projectors and screens will be very soon put into the RIC in order for the detainees to be constantly informed about the COVID-19.
The National Public Health Organization (NPHO), to ensure the coverage of the population's medical needs within the RIC had appointed 3 psychologists, 3 social workers, 2 nurses, 2 first responders, 1 doctor, 1 midwife and 1 coordinator, who have everyday presence at the premises of the RIC and are prepared to face any future COVID-19 incident.
Because of the suspension of the asylum applications, applied by a legislative act, for individuals who entered Greece illegally and were arrested by the Greek authorities after the 1 st of March 2020 and the direct and strict measures taken against COVID-19 by the Greek government, the RIC which is the only closed center in Greece, does not accept newly arrived people within the premises until further notice. In total, during March 146 individuals, 10 of whom were minors, were exceptionally recorded in the RIC in a try of decongesting the boarder guards. The last record within the RIC were two Syrian unaccompanied minors, who arrived at the RIC on appr. 20 of March, after a direct order of the prosecutor to get under protective custody and as soon as they entered the premises, they were put into a 14 days quarantine.
No COVID-19 incident has yet been noticed or announced within the premises of the RIC in Fylakio Orestiada.