Over 13,000 migrants have applied for asylum

Over 13,000 migrants have applied for asylum

More than 13,000 migrants have lodged applications for asylum in Greece since the beginning of this year, according to government figures, but it could take months for the requests to be processed even as the Aegean islands are seeing hundreds of new arrivals every week.

According to the most updated available government figures, 13,583 migrants made asylum applications between January 1 and May 31.

Of those, 5,731 lodged their applications in Attica, 3,007 in Thessaloniki, 1,918 on Lesvos, 526 on Samos, 210 on Chios and 130 on Leros.

A total of 7,032 of the asylum applicants are from Syria, 1,248 from Iraq, 1,030 from Pakistan, 568 from Afghanistan, 544 from Albania, 518 from Iran, 372 from Bangladesh, 257 from Georgia, 212 from Morocco and 163 from the Palestinian Territories.

So far, just 588 decisions have been issued, 410 of which have been rejections.

Greek authorities have granted refugee status to 146 people, while another 32 have been granted supplementary protection, which is a specific period of protection rather than the unconditional protection foreseen by full refugee status.

The process of “pre-registration” that is currently under way at migrant reception centers across the country is expected to be completed by mid-August.

Officials of Greece’s Asylum Service estimate that the majority of the migrants who are pre-registered will submit their asylum applications within six months.

Those whose appeals are rejected must be deported to Turkey.

Migrants can appeal against rejections but usually this simply results in a postponement of their deportation, as 90 percent of appeals against rejections are turned down.

Authorities are concerned about an increase in the influx of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey. The arrivals had all but stopped after Ankara signed a deal with the European Union in March to crack down on a human smuggling in the Aegean.

But since a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, arrivals have started picking up with an average of 100 migrants arriving daily, as compared to an average of 30 before the failed coup.

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