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Executive Summary | Research on Accessibility and Barriers to Gender-Based Violence Services for refugee and migrant girls, boys, women and men in Greece

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In the period from 2015 to 2016 Greece experienced an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in the country with very different social realities in relation to ethnic origin, gender, age, cultural background, and their emerging needs, put the existing national response and protection system under strain.

Within the extremely challenging context, the priority has been the need to safeguard human rights and to secure protection and safety of the affected population, particularly the most vulnerable groups among which have been GBV survivors -male, female and children- and/or persons at risk of GBV, such as unaccompanied minors.

Another challenge has been that the national system of GBV protection is focusing exclusively on responding to female GBV survivors. Therefore, the urgent need emerged to build Greece’s response capacity not only in relation to its cultural diversification competency, but also to the needs of other groups experiencing GBV, such as males as well as children.

The international humanitarian community provided important aid, as well as know-how and human resources/expertise to address the needs and to offer complementary support to the state to respond to the heightened risk of sexual violence due to the amid tensions and overcrowding at reception facilities that refugee women, men and children faced.

These developments resulted in the shifting of the response system, in terms of protection and safety as well as services and operating procedures towards diverse beneficiaries, as regards identification of survivors, PSS provision, safe accommodation/sheltering, health care, legal aid, interpretation, referral pathways and specialized staff.

As outlined above, in comparison with the situation in 2015 and 2016, GBV response has made significant progress. A growing number of female GBV cases have received assistance through public- and NGO-led services, mostly due to the efforts of a few local GBV actors, to which specialized knowledge and expertise have been handed over by the INGOs operating in the first period, through partnerships funded by ECHO and other UN funds in the past 2-3 years.

Parallel to that, the capacity of the public system to receive female refugee survivors has been enhanced through trained staff, available interpretation services, the appointment of KEELPNO as the body responsible for the (medical) case management in the camps and RICs, as well as the adoption of the Protocol on Cooperation amongst public actors and the medical protocol for public hospitals. Indicatively, slight progress is observed in response of the public system as proven by a relatively greater number of GBV survivors having accessed helpline (7% female refugees in 2017, 9% in 2018) and of sheltered women (184 in 2016, 224 in 2018).

Despite the progress made so far, persistent gaps and ongoing challenges are still there to be identified and addressed, as GBV remains an under-researched topic, especially within the refugee context, where its socio-cultural determinants become particularly challenging to comprehend.

Further on, the GBV refugee response system is currently undergoing structural changes, due to a transition from a mainly International Organizations and NGO-led response during the emergency situation, to one in which the public sector takes the lead role. A pressing need has thus arisen to account for the progress made so far, to evaluate the current policy approaches and explore sustainable ways forward.

In light of the above, in January 2018, UNICEF commissioned CRWI Diotima to conduct research on the Accessibility and Barriers to GBV services for refugee and migrant girls, boys, women and men in Greece, to investigate the functionality of the GBV response system and formulate policy recommendations that will contribute to the improvement of the existing response capacity, especially in view of the state’s increasing role.

To achieve this, the present report brings together the refections from  both state and non-state stakeholders, but also captures the voices of the community and the beneficiaries themselves. In line with its main purpose, the research pursues the following objectives:

  1. To better understand the legal, policy, and procedural framework regulating GBV prevention and response services in Greece, the ways in which they pertain to refugee and migrant women, men, boys and girls, as well as identify unattended needs.
  2. To map the existing GBV prevention and response services for survivors provided by public and (I)NGO actors in Greece across a range of sectors and regions and to capture regional variations, such as in Attica, Central Macedonia (Thessaloníki), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (Evros), and Northern Aegean (Lesvos island).
  3. To clarify existing GBV referral pathways and analyze the ways in which they are used in practice by the actors involved, identify strengths and challenges, impediments and omissions.
  4. To assess the capacity and quality of health, psychosocial, and safety services throughout the procedure of identifying, referring and managing a GBV case.
  5. To identify good and/or promising practices.
  6. To assess stakeholders’ understanding of obstacles and barriers to accessing services and positively influence policies and administrative practices through evidence-based policy recommendations

Research Group 

Maria Liapi, Scientific Responsible

Chrisa Giannopoulou, Senior Researcher

Thanasis Tyrovolas, Researcher

Eugenia Kountouri – Tsami, Researcher

Stella Saratsi, Coordinator

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