Difficult access and long delays in processing asylum applications are the main findings in a report released by Greek NGO “Aitima” on Tuesday, which monitors the asylum procedures at both the mainland and the islands. The NGO said it visited asylum offices and refugee camps and spoke with officials and other organizations to collect its data.
Concerning the situation on the mainland, the report says it found extremely limited possibility of lodging an asylum application at the regional asylum offices in person – and applicants were referred to the problematic process through Skype. “The delays in achieving full registration can last several months and consequently, there are delays until the examination of asylum, the family reunification and the relocation applications of refugees who stay in the camps, as a result of the authorities’ decision to follow the pre-registration procedure,” the report says.
Concerning the situation on the islands, the NGO said delays in the registration of asylum claims can take up to seven months and there is an arbitrary prioritization of asylum cases based on nationality without taking into consideration the date the asylum seekers expressed their will to apply and, in many cases, their vulnerability.
“There is huge information deficit, aggravated by the continuous changes of the procedures followed by the authorities, a lack of free legal assistance at first instance and a highly problematic provision of services to both the asylum seekers and lawyers,” it said.
“Aitima” also found problems with the appeal procedure for rejected asylum applications.
“In most cases the procedure is based on the elements from the case file, without the presence of the appellant, which poses risks of inadequate examination of the appeals, particularly in the light of the aforementioned problems at 1st instance,” it said.