A.Ss.I.S.T. currently provides vital legal aid and information to asylum seekers, most of whom reside in Vial Reception Identification Centre (RIC) on Chios, renowned for overcrowding, substandard living conditions and inadequate medical, legal and other basic services. Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, A.Ss.I.S.T. has been delivering services digitally and is now serving clients in the larger Athens metropolitan area, using a cloud-based, virtual country level office.
The size of the current asylum seeking and refugee population in Athens is extremely difficult to assess. However, in recent organisational needs assessments, all actors reported the huge demand for legal, information and social services. Information and legal aid services are under-resourced and overwhelmed. A.Ss.I.S.T.'s aim is to endeavor to fill this services gap for as many applicants for asylum as possible, by complementing and partnering with other organisations.
A.Ss.I.S.T. provides asylum seekers with free, up-to-date and easily understandable information on rights, obligations and asylum procedures, referrals to other services, and help access labour market. Lawyers answer legal questions and prepare clients for asylum interviews; lodge appeals; social workers provide support for accessing social services, and steps necessary to regularise and stabilise their status. Our translation team ensure services can reach 7 relevant languages of client groups.
It is impossible for asylum seekers to have a clear understanding of the complex and ever-changing legal systems that affect their asylum applications without legal aid, which is a vast barrier to gaining refugee status. Our project will provide this understanding to asylum seekers on Chios, and across the mainland, helping to restore autonomy, certitude and dignity situations where there may be none, and ultimately to assist asylum seekers in gaining international protection and a new start.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).