People considered vulnerable
People considered vulnerable often get priority for services and programs. Under Greek law, vulnerable people are:
- Unaccompanied Minors (people under 18 years old) who are in Greece with or without their families
- Direct relatives of those killed in shipwrecks (parents, siblings, children, and spouses)
- People with disabilities
- Elderly people
- Pregnant women
- Single-parent families with children under 18
- Victims of human trafficking (people who have been forced into labour or sexually exploited)
- People with serious illness
- People with mental and psychiatric disabilities
- Victims of torture, rape, or other severe forms of psychological, physical, or sexual violence, such as survivors of genital mutilation (FGM)
How does the vulnerability assessment take place?
The fact that you belong to one of the above categories of vulnerable people is a factor taken into account both during the Reception and Identification Procedure in a Reception and Identification Center (RIC) and during the asylum procedure before the Greek Asylum Service, regardless of whether it takes place on the islands or the mainland.
Α) During the Reception and Identification Procedure in a Reception and Identification Center (RIC)
During the Reception and Identification Procedure, you will undergo medical control. During this control, the authorities attempt to identify people belonging to vulnerable groups to provide them with specialized medical care and protection and to refer them to competent public bodies for social support and protection. For example, in the case of unaccompanied minors will be referred to special shelters or safe areas.
Inside RIC, doctors of EODY (National Public Health Organization) will give you an in-person medical examination. The clinical psychologists of EODY are responsible for your psychological evaluation. During these examinations, they will note your details and should ask about your medical history and current health condition. If you have any medical documents with you, you will be asked to present them. It is essential to describe your health condition and medical history with as many details as possible. This will make the process faster and more accurate. You might also get referred to the local public hospital for more specialized medical examinations.
EODY must ensure that interpreters who speak your language are present throughout these assessments. If an official interpreter is not present during your appointment, you should not proceed with your examination.
If the EODY medical team considers you vulnerable after their assessment, they will prepare a written vulnerability report, which will also share with RIC, police and the Asylum Service.
The levels of vulnerability: The assessment will determine if you have a "high" vulnerability, a "medium" vulnerability or "no" vulnerability at all. If you are considered "highly" vulnerable, EODY will refer you to a public hospital or a specialized doctor for medical care and treatment. If you are on an island when needed, you might be transferred to the mainland, where you can receive the medical support you need.
If your level of vulnerability is considered "medium", your condition could worsen if you do not receive more specialized support. You will receive accommodation outside the Reception and Identification Center, where conditions might be better.
B) Vulnerability Reassessment on the islands (during the examination of your application for international protection)
Suppose you have entered Greece via an island and applied for international protection there. In that case, the rule is that your application for international protection will be processed under the fast-track border procedure. However, if the Asylum Service assess you as vulnerable, you might be exempted from the fast-track border procedure, so your application for international protection will be assessed under the regular procedure. This does not mean that you will automatically be transferred to the mainland.
The Asylum Service to assess your vulnerability will rely on medical reports issued by EODY or doctors from public hospitals. Medical reports issued only by private doctors or medical NGOs will not be considered enough to assess your vulnerability.
If you are not assessed as vulnerable and your health situation changes, you can request a vulnerability reassessment while the asylum application is ongoing, even after the interview. In that case, you will have to submit to the Asylum Service new documents to prove your vulnerability status so that they can review your case. It would be better to consult a lawyer to assist you in that procedure.
Vulnerability Reassessment on Lesvos
To request a reassessment, you need to reach out to the Vulnerability Service in RICs to reassess your vulnerability status, or you might be referred directly by EODY or indirectly by other protection actors/NGOs active on site. The Vulnerability Service is an administrative registration service that manages the lifting of geographical restrictions on behalf of RIC camp management. The Vulnerability Service makes necessary referrals to test the vulnerability claims at this stage. After being presented to the Vulnerability Service, cases are reviewed by a committee (composed most likely of a doctor, a social worker, and the transfer office). Then the committee suggests the RIC Camp Commander that can approve or reject its recommendation. If Camp Management approves the vulnerability re-evaluation and the geographical restriction is lifted, the Vulnerability Service informs, in turn, the Asylum service, leading to a temporary or permanent lift of geographic restriction.
Vulnerability Reassessment on Samos
The Asylum Service informs the RIS and EODY to do the assessment. An applicant can also provide medical documents to Samos's RIS or Communication Unit.
Vulnerability Reassessment on Chios
The Asylum Service informs the RIS and EODY to do the assessment. An applicant can also provide medical documents to the RIS or Asylum Service through the Info Point (Chios).
C) During the examination of your application for international protection before the Asylum Service (island or mainland)
In all stages of the examination of your application for international protection, the Asylum Service assesses and takes into consideration the person's vulnerability to provide the corresponding procedural guarantees, e.g. if the asylum seeker turns out to be a victim of human trafficking to make a referral to the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings; or if a person has any disability to take the necessary measures to safeguard its procedural rights; or to request medical examinations that will prove its claim for international protection in a public hospital or private doctor contracted with the Greek state.
How does the vulnerability assessment affect my case?
It is important to note that the identification of vulnerability does not will, in principle, not affect your case. It is, in the first place, crucial for procedural guarantee provision.
Going through an interview while your vulnerability is being evaluated?
If you have an interview before the evaluation of your vulnerability is finalized (for example, going through an age assessment to establish that you are a minor), make sure to mention it to the Greek Asylum Service case worker at the beginning of the interview. Depending on the case, the interview will either continue or be postponed later.
Both during the Reception and Identification Procedure in a Reception and Identification Center (RIC) and the asylum procedure before the Greek Asylum Service, regardless of whether it takes place on the islands or the mainland, if an employee doubts about you being under 18 years old, they have to start an age assessment procedure.
The age assessment procedure includes a medical examination by a general practitioner or paediatrician, a psychologist and a social worker and an examination by ex-rays, depending on how difficult it is to determine the age. In every stage of the procedure, you have the right to be informed about the procedure that will be followed and its results in a language you understand. The results should be notified to you in the end. If you disagree with the results of the age assessment, you have 15 days to appeal. In that case, it is better to consult a lawyer.
If your interview takes place before your age assessment has been finalized, make sure to mention that to the Greek Asylum Service case worker at the beginning of your interview. Depending on the case, your interview will continue or be postponed to a later stage.