Greek authorities have found that out of the 1,950 asylum seekers who reached the Greek islands from Turkey in July and August, only 500 were Syrians qualifying for refugee status.
According to the Hellenic Coast Guard who rescue the passengers of the boats coming from Turkey and then take part in the processing, three out of four are economic migrants, not people fleeing from war.
A coast guard official, who spoke to Eleftheros Typos newspaper, said that the illegal economic migrants who land on the eastern Aegean islands are very difficult to handle because they immediately apply for asylum and Greek authorities are obligated to accommodate them until their applications are processed.
Given the large number of migrants applying for asylum, the process takes months. Furthermore, those who have their applications rejected appeal the decision. The appeal, again, takes months.
During the time it takes to process the asylum applications, the migrants stay in the overcrowded migrant hospitality facilities or roam free. Some hide and stay in Greece illegally.