“Accessibility of GBV Services for refugee and migrant populations enhanced but needs strengthening”, a new research report says.
The Centre for Research on Women’s Issues “Diotima” is launching a new research report: “Accessibility and Barriers to gender-based violence (GBV) services for refugee and migrant girls, boys, women and men in Greece.” The report assesses progress made as well as ongoing gaps in the GBV response system for survivors of three years after the country experienced an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers that strained the existing GBV response capacity. The research was carried out in 2018, with the support of UNICEF and through funding from the United States Government.
The research found that in many areas, the GBV response services in Greece have made notable progress over the period 2016-2018 including: a greater number of female GBV survivors receive assistance through public and NGO services; staff training has enhanced the capacity of the public system to care for female refugee survivors; increased availability of interpretation for GBV services; appointment of the KEELPNO/EODY as the state body responsible for GBV (medical) case management in the camps and reception and identification centers (RICs); and the adoption of a GBV Coordination Protocol amongst public actors and a GBV medical protocol for public hospitals.
While this progress is notable, the research found that critical gaps in the GBV response system persist, including: shortages of specialized GBV response staff in RICs; limited provision of specialised legal assistance services; limited interpretation capacity in key GBV response services including hospitals, police, courts, Counseling Centers and Shelters, Reception and Identification Centers; limited capacity to respond to emergency incidents on a 24/7 basis; great shortages and difficulties in providing safe accommodation for the immediate removal and protection of survivors; significant gaps in services to protect child and male survivors.
“Refugee women in Evros have to travel for one and a half hours in order to report a GBV incident. Survivors of domestic violence in Moria see their abusers free, due to investigation delays. Female refugees “excluded” from free public legal aid because they cannot prove they are destitute! Male refugees, GBV survivors, cannot receive support due to absence of specialized organisations to provide GBV case management. Male and female survivors are expected to expose their experiences and needs without interpretation, a process that intensifies the feeling of despair and discourages seeking help”, refers to the report.
The report highlights the need to upgrade the GBV response capacity, expand services to support child and male survivors, and ensure equitable support to all GBV survivors. It also underlines the need for survivor-centered services that are fully accessible by the refugee and migrant population.
“Many times, we have observed that people are stuck, they are not going to the services for this reason exactly, that there is no interpretation available” (Service Provider).
Additional recommendations include strengthening GBV detection mechanisms in Reception and Identification Centres, with specialised staff on the ground working in coordination with public services under commonly accepted procedures; provision of interpretation services into many languages at all public shelters and in the 15900 helpline; dissemination of guidelines to police departments on legal developments and policy measures on managing GBV cases, especially within the refugee and migrant population; ensuring safe accommodation for GBV survivors; providing targeted rehabilitation and integration programmes for survivors; providing specialised services for male and LGBTQ survivors.