News on migration and asylum from around the region - Nouvelles de la région sur les questions de migration et d'asile

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

[GREECE] UNHCR: UNHCR welcomes asylum process reforms in Greece, but more needs to be done

30 January 2015

GENEVA, January 30 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday commended Greece for reforming its asylum process during tough economic and political times for the southern European nation, but noted that more needed to be done.
In a report based on an assessment carried out in the last quarter of 2014, UNHCR also recommended that other European Union (EU) nations should still not return asylum-seekers to Greece, extending advice first given in 2008. As well as applying to returns carried out bilaterally between countries, the recommendation also applies to transfers done under the EU's Dublin regulation  which determines the country in which an asylum claim is processed.
Over the past year, Greece saw a dramatic increase in refugee and migrant arrivals by sea. In all, around 43,500 people arrived there across the Mediterranean, a 280 per cent increase from 2013. About 60 per cent were from Syria, but there were also substantial numbers of Afghans, Somalis and Eritreans. Many move on to other EU states.
But problems remain in Greece's asylum system despite reforms. These problems include difficulties in accessing the asylum procedure, a continuing backlog of unresolved cases under the old procedure, risk of arbitrary detention, inadequate reception conditions, lack of identification and support for individuals with specific needs, push-backs of people at the border, concerns over integration prospects and support for refugees, and xenophobia and racist violence.