Asylum Applications Skyrocket in Greece

(AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Asylum applications in Greece skyrocketed 593 percent in November compared to the 2015 monthly average, according to figures released by the Greek Asylum Service on Thursday.

Despite the fact that migrant arrivals in Greece have dropped since the European Union-Turkey agreement in March, 7,625 migrants and refugees applied for asylum in November alone. This is almost seven times more than the average of 1,110 per month in 2015.

The biggest rise in requests was noted in Thessaloniki (1,514 percent), on the island of Lesvos (824 percent) and in the region of Thrace (402 percent). Thousands of asylum seekers are accommodated in the particular areas due to their proximity to the borders. On the contrary, the rise in asylum applications in Athens was 62 percent.

The number of applications rose in September and October as well, with 5,125 and 6,268 migrants applying respectively. The total for the first 11 months of 2016 was 27,812 requests from men, 16,563 from women and 2,072 from unaccompanied minors.

In demographic terms, the majority of applicants were Syrian nationals (23,649), followed by Pakistanis (4,066), Iraqis (4,055) and Afghans (3,295). There were also many asylum applications from Palestinians and Algerians.

In 2016 up to November, the Asylum Service reviewed 6,522 applications. It granted refugee status to a total of 2,255 applicants in the initial review and 186 in the secondary phase. Pending applications by November 30 stood at 25,142.

On the first review, the Asylum Service granted refugee status to 99 percent of Syrian applicants, 98 percent of Palestinians, 65 percent of Iraqis, 53 percent of Iranians and 48 percent of Afghans.

Until November 27, the Asylum Service received 18,488 applications for relocation to other European Union countries and processed 11,915 of these, with 9,124 getting approved and 602 being rejected.