Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas’ statement on the occasion of World Refugee Day 20/06/2019


Today, the 20th of June the international community is turning their eyes to those people who were forced to abandon their countries leaving behind everything they had worked for in order to save their lives and their families, the refugees. Just one day, though, is not enough. Our care must be there on a daily basis.
At the same time we honour all those who showed solidarity to the refugees, who treated them not as an invisible threat but as men, women and children striving to save their life and dignity. These people who showed solidarity and humanity are the best hope for a society open to multiculturalism, a society tolerant to the different, a society that has no place for xenophobia, intolerance and extremism.
The protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Greece as well as in Europe is an obligation, not only conventional and legal, anchored in International Law and international conventions, but primarily moral.
Our country, its people as well as its government, has risen to the occasion in adverse conditions, honouring our history and values that define the identity of the Greek and European civilization. Today, on the basis of the hospitality system that we have developed in Greece, 25,000 people are accommodated in houses in the framework of the ESTIA programme, 20,000 in 28 Hospitality Structures on the mainland and 8,000 in hotels. More than 12,500 children attend classes while kindergartens operate in the majority of the Hospitality Structures. However, the humane management of the migration-refugee issue calls for an end of the wars and for financial and developmental support of the societies that struggle under immense poverty. It requires the prevalence of international conventions such as the Geneva Convention regarding border procedures and a fair sharing of the frontline countries’ burden with all the European countries. Today, a relocation as well as an asylum applications examination programme for at least 20,000 asylum seekers in other European countries is an absolute necessity. The same holds for a Common European Asylum System and a common refugee profile. Today, we have to talk expressly, to agree on concrete measures and to act.
Our obligation is to make sure that the refugees arriving at our country struggling for their life, will find the conditions to live in safety and dignity.