Chaos returns to the Aliens Bureau
Crowds of up to 4,000 illegal immigrants are gathering outside the Aliens Bureau on Petrou Ralli Street every Friday as officials have restricted the unit’s operation to one day a week. Officials processing asylum claims at the bureau had started processing claims daily last month, apparently in a bid to appease protesters after the death of a Pakistani asylum seeker who fell into a ditch in the district of Votanikos after allegedly being chased by officers. It seems that officials switched back to a once-a-week service after the furor subsided. But tensions are beginning to rise again. Last week saw violent scuffles erupting between groups of migrants as a line of about 4,000 asylum seekers thronged outside the bureau. «Beatings, kickings, massive lines, the same old problems,» said Marianna Tzeferakou, a migrants’ rights lawyer. She told Kathimerini that the state must take responsibility for the influx of migrants into Greece. «If there was the political will, the problem would be solved,» she said. According to sources, the chaos outside the bureau has inspired opportunists to sell asylum application forms – photocopies of the original – for 20 euros apiece. Some of the asylum seekers waiting in line outside the Athens bureau reportedly applied for asylum on the Aegean island through which they entered Greece but were subsequently issued with a deportation order. According to Giorgos Alevyzakis of the country’s main labor union GSEE, the best solution would be to balance out the burden of processing thousands of asylum applications. «Applications could be submitted at municipal offices and police stations before being forwarded to Petrou Ralli for examination,» he said.