OSCE PA Migration Committee meeting focuses on challenges facing Greece

COPENHAGEN, 7 June 2021 – Members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration met online today with Sofia Voultepsi, Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum in Charge of Integration, to hear about Greece’s COVID-19 mitigation measures and the roll-out of vaccination programmes for the asylum-seeking population of the Aegean Islands.

Deputy Minister Voultepsi provided an overview of the vaccination efforts which started last week, noting that progress is being made but that challenges remain particularly in convincing migrants to participate in the vaccination programme since it is not mandatory.

Chaired by OSCE PA Vice-President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden), the meeting also focused on the status of the Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), as well as the status of the planned new RICs, and reception and specialized services for migrants in vulnerable categories.

Voultepsi, a Greek parliamentarian and former member of the OSCE PA, described overall efforts at health care and education in the camps, pointing out that Greece is working with UNICEF to facilitate access to schools and that a programme is being implemented to prepare those about to turn 18 for the workforce. She explained that the general conditions have improved for the migrants and asked for solidarity from other European countries in helping to meet migration challenges in Greece, for example through the EU’s relocation programmes.

Dimitrios Markopoulos (Greece), Member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, shared additional information about vaccination efforts, including the extensive education programme to convince refugees to take part in the programme.

Cederfelt emphasized that it is not an easy task for Greece but expressed hope that the lower number of asylum seekers will make the situation more manageable. She noted that there is a need for shared responsibility among the European Union member states and highlighted the Migration Pact as a positive step.

Other Migration Committee members who took part in the meeting were Vice-Chair Alf Dubs (United Kingdom), Vice-Chair Gudrun Kugler (Austria), Valerie Boyer (France), Hedy Fry (Canada), and Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus). Theodoros Karaoglu, Head of the Delegation of Greece to the OSCE PA, also participated.



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