People collect basic necessities to be distributed to the Ukrainian population, at the Monastery of Vlatada, Thessaloniki, Greece, 1 March 2022 | Photo: Dimitris Tosidis / EPA
People collect basic necessities to be distributed to the Ukrainian population, at the Monastery of Vlatada, Thessaloniki, Greece, 1 March 2022 | Photo: Dimitris Tosidis / EPA

The Greek government has announced that the ministry of immigration and asylum has created a special job-search page for Ukrainian refugees. Greece has already launched a specific web page with vital information for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the country.

Greece continues to ramp up its efforts to support Ukrainian refugees as more people arrive in the country due to the ongoing invasion by Russia which began on February 24.

Addressing Parliament on Wednesday (March 16), Notis Mitarakis, the minister of immigration and asylum, gave an update on the current situation regarding Ukrainian refugees in the country and the initiatives set up to help them.

"In this difficult situation for the world, Greece has taken a clear position from the beginning: We advocated for international law and in the critical hours that followed unequivocally condemned the invasion. We belong to the West, we take the road of peace, and we aim to build stability in our 'neighborhood'," said Mitarakis.

Ads with job offers for Ukrainian refugees

Greece, which has already launched a special page on its website with vital information for Ukrainians seeking refuge in Greece, announced that the ministry of immigration and asylum was also launching a special job search page. It will post ads from companies with direct offers to displaced Ukrainian citizens.

"There has been a moving response from the private sector and civil society in general, which we believe should be filtered, crystallized and then channeled through state care," added Mitarakis. "We have made up to 15,000 beds available immediately, and this can be gradually increased, if necessary," said Mitarakis, who also clarified that Greece's national reception system has around 30,000 vacancies thanks to the substantial decongestion of the country's islands and the mainland.

Mitarakis also reiterated how quickly the Greek government had put in place these measures. "Greece announced from the outset the provision of temporary protection to displaced Ukrainian citizens, family members and recognized refugees, initially for 12 months," Mitarakis commented.

"On the same day, we issued a Ministerial Decree on the activation of the directive at a national level, with retroactive effect from February 24.

Special reception team offering services around the clock

Speaking specifically about Greece's entry points for Ukrainian refugees, Mitarakis said that in Promachonas, "the Reception and Identification Service created a special reception team, utilizing the existing facilities and offering services on a 24-hour basis."

On offer there, explained Mitarakis, is detailed information - through a special brochure, translated into Ukrainian and with the possibility of online interpretation; as well as food and hot drinks, and a waiting area, while the identification procedures in the Passport Control Department are completed.

Also, on the subject of hospitality, Mitarakis added: "We have now redefined the character of two hosting structures within the national reception system. The structure in Sintiki, Serres, is a new structure, and is being used for short-term hospitality of those who arrive in our country from Promachonas. There, we have the possibility of first-level accommodation in specially designed lodges, and we offer hot drinks, meals and personal hygiene items."

Greece 'has opened its arms'

Mitarakis confirmed that the process of providing temporary protection will begin from April 4 at the Regional Asylum Offices of Thessaloniki, Attica, Patras and Crete, and clarified that "these are one-stop points, where the beneficiaries will receive a residence permit - in fact in the colors of the Ukrainian flag - and where the biometric data and photos will be taken."

The residence permit will also include the AMKA (health insurance number) and AFM (tax number) numbers which are necessary for access to Greece's national health system and the labor market.

"Greece actively supports displaced Ukrainians and has opened its arms to welcome them. And we have done it in a coordinated way, efficiently and in harmony with Europe and the western world," concluded Mitarakis in his address.

Ukraine war reopens new EU pact debate

While Greece is showing support for Ukrainians, the country's lawmakers are also hoping that Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis will reopen the debate on a new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum that the government insists must now be completed.

The prospect of a change in attitudes among the Visegrad countries, by far the toughest on migration issues, now seems to be on the agenda, given that those countries are now faced with the stark reality of increased migration flows.

The goal of the Greek government, and the migration ministry in particular, according to local media reports, is for all EU countries to realize the value of the proportional relocation of refugees, a concept which until now had not gained traction among all of the EU partners.

The issue of changing the current outlook to the migration issue was raised during a recent meeting between Mitarakis and his German counterpart Nancy Faeser.


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