Athens erasing asylum backlog
Sources say 97.5 percent of 84,000 claims submitted under old system processed
Greece has taken a significant step toward restoring the credibility of its asylum system as – according to the latest data from sources within the Migration Policy Ministry – authorities have processed 97.5 percent of a backlog of about 84,000 claims submitted under the old procedure in place before 2011. Progress has been achieved mostly due to an amendment to Law 4375/2016. Adopted after an EU-Turkey deal aimed at stemming migrant flows into Europe, the law introduced changes to the institutional framework. Now applicants for international protection who lodged a claim more than five years ago, have a pending appeal and possess a valid asylum seeker’s permit are granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. The measure affects about 800 cases. “It’s a fair decision as these people have lived in the country for many years with no final decision on their cases without it being their fault. They have become integrated and grown ties with Greece. Some may have even made a family here,” Maria Stavropoulou, the Greek Asylum service chief, told Kathimerini. With the same amendment that was voted in Parliament last week, people with pending appeals under the old system who have not appeared before the authorities to renew their asylumseeker permit for a minimum of eight months are considered to have implicitly withdrawn their applications – and their claims are thereby discontinued. As a result, authorities closed books on about 1,800 cases.