Spike in Syrians seeking asylum in Greece

The number of Syrians applying for asylum in Greece has risen by more than 250 percent this year, according to the head of Greece’s asylum service, Maria Stavropoulou.

She told Sunday’s Kathimerini that around 230 Syrians a month applied for asylum in the first two months of 2015 compared to an average of 65 last year. “They have started trusting the system a little more and this draws people in,” she said.

Stavropoulou said that roughly one in two applicants is given asylum in Greece compared to a rate of just 0.5 percent in the past. She said that the flow of refugees has increased the pressure on her service and means it needs greater resources. She added that the number of personnel needs to increase from around 200 to 500. She also suggested that the annual budget of 12 million euros, half of which is covered by European Union funding, is not enough.

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