Greek authorities have managed to slash the time needed to process asylum applications down to 24 days, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Saturday, adding that easing the pressure on the Aegean islands hosting camps was the government’s top priority.
“Early data show that the decision for those [applicants] who entered the country in 2020 are now being issued within 24 days,” Mitarakis said, adding that the government was stepping up efforts to send rejected applicants back to Turkey.
Authorities have organized nine returns operations since the beginning of the year, the minister said, adding that although numbers are relatively small returns are taking place in a systematic manner.
Meanwhile, municipal officials and residents on the island of Lesvos dumped thousands of life jackets and rubber boats – discarded by refugees and migrants who made the crossing from Turkey – as an act of protest on the plot of land where the government plans to build a new closed migrant center, on Saturday.
“They can use them to decorate the new center,” West Lesvos Mayor Taxiarchis Verros said, urging residents to join the protest.