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Hellenic Coastguard and UNHCR Greece sign Memorandum of Cooperation

05 September 2014

© Hellenic Coast Guard

The Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) Headquarters and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece signed today a Memorandum of Cooperation at the Ministry of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean.  

The aim of this cooperation agreement is to reinforce the management capacity of the Government of Greece to respond to third country nationals (refugees and migrants) who enter the country irregularly by sea. Priority will be given to the protection of human life, respect for human rights and compliance with the regulations of international, European and national law governing the protection of refugees.

The two parties acknowledge the serious challenges facing the country by the continuous increase of the number of mixed migratory groups entering Greek territory by sea and are looking forward to strengthening their cooperation which is already in effect at the sea border regions. 

The cooperation will particularly aim to reinforce the first reception framework of new arrivals, including those who are rescued at sea, for as long as they remain under the responsibility of the Coastguard up to the time they are referred to other authorities as stipulated by law. Areas of cooperation between the two parties include the exchange of information on new arrivals in order to ensure that their needs are met and essential services are provided (provision of non-food items, information on their rights and obligations, etc.). In addition, the Memorandum emphasises the joint effort to improve the conditions of first entry-reception and to ensure closer communication on issues relating to the compliance with international obligations concerning persons in need of international protection. These include the safe entry into the territory, unhindered access to the asylum procedure and respect to the principle of non-refoulement. 

Finally, the two parties, recognizing the importance of continuous training on matters of fundamental human rights and international refugee protection, agreed to make every effort to implement training activities relevant to the above.  

The cooperation focuses on locations where new sea arrivals may occur, especially the islands of the North-eastern Aegean and the islands of the Dodecanese

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