UN objects to asylum change

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said yesterday that it was suspending its participation in the processing of thousands of migrants’ asylum applications in Greece in protest at the provisions of a new presidential decree which, the agency claims, would compromise the efficiency and fairness of an already cumbersome procedure. «These new developments are likely to make protection in Greece more elusive for those who need it,» said Laurens Jolles, the UNHCR’s regional representative. The Geneva-based agency said structural changes introduced by the decree will decentralize the first phase of decision-making on asylum applications to 50 police directorates which lack the required expertise, interpretation services and legal aid. It also objected to the abolition of an appeals board which reviews applications. «The changes… do not sufficiently guarantee the efficiency and fairness of the refugee status determination procedure in Greece as required by international and European legislation,» the agency said.