Greece okays asylum requests of 10,000 refugees

Greece okays asylum requests of 10,000 refugees

At least 10,000 refugees, including around 2,000 minors, are expected to remain in Greece over the coming three years as their asylum applications have been approved.

The approved asylum claims account for about a sixth of more than 60,000 migrants who are currently stranded in Greece following the decision last year by a series of Balkan states to close their borders amid a massive influx of refugees from Syria and other war-torn states.

The arrival of migrants in Greece has slowed significantly following an agreement between the European Union and Turkey in March last year to crack down on human smuggling across the Aegean. However, boatloads of migrants continue to arrive on Greek shores from neighboring Turkey. On Wednesday, another 145 migrants arrived on the eastern Aegean island of Chios alone. Authorities attribute the sudden spike in arrivals to the unseasonably good weather.

According to the Greek Asylum Service, a total of 1,912 migrants lodged asylum applications in January of this year. Last year, when hundreds of thousands of migrants flooded through Greece toward other parts of Europe, a total of 51,091 people applied for asylum in Greece, compared to 13,195 in 2015, 9,432 in 2014 and 4,814 in 2013.

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