As hundreds of refugees and migrants lined up to renew their temporary residence permits outside Greece’s main Asylum Service a few kilometers north of central Athens for a third day on Friday, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis announced measures to facilitate the process and ease crowding amid fears of a coronavirus spread.
Visiting the overburdened Katechaki Avenue facility on Friday, Mitarakis said that the validity of existing temporary residence permits expiring between July 1 and September 31 would be extended until October 1 in order to allow holders more time to have then renewed.
The decision came after the ministry came under fire for the intense overcrowding witnessed outside the facility in recent days, during dozens of people even camped out overnight so as not to lose their turn.
The minister also said that the process for renewing residence permits would be available online as of Monday, though critics have pointed out that many applicants may not have access to the internet and may also have problems understanding the instructions relating to what is often a complicated bureaucratic procedure.
Another measure that will go into effect on Monday, according to Mitarakis’ announcement, is the ability of refugees and migrants staying at organized camps to apply for their residence permits to be extended at the asylum services there.