This week, Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), visited the reception facilities on the island of Samos in Greece.
While he acknowledged the efforts being made to create new facilities and improve current living conditions, he highlighted concrete steps national authorities need to take to ensure dignified conditions at such facilities.
FRA highlighted twelve points for protection-sensitive and fundamental rights-compliant planning and design of the initial-reception facilities at EU external borders. It is also important to avoid protracted stay in such facilities.
In general, the longer the stay in such centres, the more difficult it becomes to uphold dignified reception conditions set out in EU law. Overcrowding is one of the key hurdle to dignified stays.
In the meetings with the national and local stakeholders, he further pointed to persisting challenges in respecting fundamental rights of people arriving in the EU as well as local residents.
While welcoming the establishment of a tracing and protection mechanism for unaccompanied children, he reiterated that the agency stands ready to support Greek authorities with its data and expertise in particular with regard to protection of vulnerable groups.
FRA Director O’Flaherty noted the important role of civil society and the importance of supporting their work.
Watch his video statement from Greece.