As pressure on migrant reception centers on the Aegean islands grows amid constant arrivals from Turkey, a new report claims that the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers have no access to information about their legal rights.
According to the report released last week by Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees, the process of applying for asylum from island “hotspots” is “extremely complicated.”
Only two in 100 asylum seekers end up getting access to a state lawyer, putting the onus on nongovernmental organizations.
The UNHCR pays 19 lawyers on the five islands that host reception centers but its capabilities, and those of other NGOs, do not match the needs of the growing migrant population.
In view of the government’s efforts to speed up the asylum process so that migrants can be moved from cramped island centers to the mainland, there is a greater need for asylum seekers to have access to legal aid without delay, the report notes.
The number of asylum applications has increased in recent years. On Lesvos, the number of applications rose from 5,091 in 2016 to 17,269 in 2018.