Asy­lum com­mit­tees im­prove

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The qual­ity of asy­lum pro­cess­ing pro­ce­dures has im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly since Fe­bru­ary when ap­peals com­mit­tees ex­am­in­ing asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions were re­struc­tured, the head of the Athens of­fice of the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Gior­gos Tsar­bopou­los, said yes­ter­day.

“The pro­ce­dures have im­proved in­com­pa­ra­bly,” Tsar­bopou­los said, not­ing that more time is spent on in­ter­views with ap­pli­cants and that the ap­pointed trans­la­tors are bet­ter qual­i­fied than be­fore. “These are ob­vi­ous as­pects of a cred­i­ble asy­lum pro­cess­ing pro­ce­dure but we never had them in Greece be­fore,” the UNHCR chief re­marked.

Still cer­tain prob­lems re­main and the refugee agency has made pro­pos­als to tackle them. Few mi­grants gain ac­cess to the com­mit­tees as they must sub­mit their ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tions with the Athens Aliens Bu­reau, which ac­cepts only 20 to 30 claims a week.

More than 40,000 asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions are pend­ing in Greece, the first point of en­try for a re­lent­less in­flux of im­mi­grants seek­ing a bet­ter life in the Euro­pean Union.

The UNHCR and other aid groups, in­clud­ing Doc­tors With­out Borders, have been press­ing authorities to im­prove sub­stan­dard con­di­tions in de­ten­tion cen­ters for mi­grants in Greece, par­tic­u­larly in the north­ern re­gion of Evros. Ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by the med­i­cal aid group, 60 per­cent of the ill­nesses af­flict­ing mi­grants be­ing held in Evros de­ten­tion cen­ters have been caused by un­san­i­tary and cramped con­di­tions in the fa­cil­i­ties.

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