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Translating Needs of Refugees and Migrants

The Panhellenic Association of Translators (PEM) has expressed its objections in assigning community interpreting duties to non-professionals, i.e. inadequately trained language speakers. Read our main remarks from the relevant Press Conference in May 2018.

Language services in the migration and refugee crisis

Within the refugee and migrant camps in Greece, community interpreting is often carried out by non-professionals, i.e. inadequately trained language speakers.

The empirical or minimally trained delegated mediators cannot maintain the required impartiality and do not possess the knowledge and training that interpreters need in such conditions. Transparency and quality control is lacking.

We visited such a refugee and migrant hotspot at Diavata, Thessaloniki in the autumn of 2017 and talked about the problems and potential solutions with the service officials.

Press Conference on the crisis

On 7 May 2018, we gave a Press Conference on the subject of language services during the migration and refugee crisis. We summarised the reasons why the authorities should formulate a long-term, realistic and serious translation and interpreting policy.

The Press Conference was attended by the President of the International Federation of Translators (FIT), Kevin Quirk, and the Chairperson of FIT Europe, Annette Schiller.

We stressed the fact that people arriving in the European Union will have linguistic and translation needs on many levels and for many years. This is not an urgent crisis, but rather a permanent situation. Therefore, there is no excuse for maintaining a status that lacks ethical rules and standards.

Professional translation and interpreting are key tools in resolving the situation:

  • They ensure the necessary neutrality, allow the voice of the asylum seekers to be heard and provide the required guarantees to the authorities.
  • They reduce misunderstandings, conflicts and incidents of violence.
  • They make it possible for both sides to communicate effectively when foreign citizens come into contact with public services, safeguarding the rights and obligations of all parties, and in particular of the most vulnerable individuals (children, pregnant women, patients, elderly people).

The use of non-professional translators and interpreters in the interaction with public services and the Greek society in general is already creating many risks.

For example, it is crucial that the full personal information of each individual is properly given to the reception services, since it will be used in the future anywhere in the EU.

Read our Press Release on the migration crisis (only available in Greek).


Are you looking for a translator with a specific area of expertise? Do you need to find an interpreter close to you? Do you need another language professional? Find the member of PEM, the Greek Translators’ Association, who meets your needs. Our members have studies and/or a proven track record in translation, interpreting and related professions, and work to or from Greek.

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T. +30 2310 266 308 • Email info@pem.gr

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