MINISTRY OF PUBLIC ORDER AND CITIZEN PROTECTION
Athens, 19 December 2014
An overview of the first eighteen months of the Asylum Service’s operation
In the course of its first eighteen months of operation ( from June 2013 to November 2014), the Asylum Service has registered 13,289 applications for international protection. These applications have been submitted by 2,769 women and 10,520 men, including 609 unaccompanied minors .
The asylum seekers who submitted their applications in Greece during the aforementioned period originate from 96 different countries. The main countries of origin are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Albania, Syria, Bangladesh, Georgia, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Sudan and Eritrea.
During the same period, 1,764 persons received international protection in Greece at the first instance, in other words approximately one in four asylum seekers (overall recognition rate of 23.6%). This recognition rate is close to the European average (28.2%) and is justified by the fact that many asylum seekers originate from countries with low recognition rates. It should be noted , however , that the number of especially Syrians who apply for asylum in Greece is steadily increasing , leading to an increase of the overall recognition rate relative to 2013 (15.4% in the first seven months of 2013, 26.7% in the first 11 months of 2014).
The average processing time for asylum claims at the first instance was 94 days. However, especially for asylum seekers who are under administrative detention and are in the process of deportation, the relevant processing time for their claims is 68 days.
The Asylum Service has submitted to other EU Member – States 1,501 claims pursuant to the Dublin III Regulation, mostly for the purpose of family reunification. During the same period, 486 persons related to these claims left the country.
Lastly , during these eighteen months of the Asylum Service’s operation, 2,709 asylum cases were closed owing either to the asylum seeker withdrawing his / her claim, or to the tacit withdrawal of the claim (the cases in which the asylum seeker failed to appear for the personal interview or for the renewal of his/her temporary residence card), or to subsequent claims judged to be unfounded (in other words, the cases where the asylum seeker had submitted a claim in the past and there were no substantive new elements which could justify a renewed examination of the claim), or to the assumption of responsibility by and the transfer to another EU Member-State pursuant to the Dublin III Regulation.
Moreover, the status of international protection was revoked for 9 persons, either because they voluntarily renounced it, or because they were convicted for especially serious crimes, in accordance with current legislation.
Apart from the speedy processing time , the Asylum Service lays particular importance to the quality of its procedures and, especially, of the decisions it issues. Emphasis is given to the correct information imparted to persons interested in asylum , to the asylum seekers and to the beneficiaries of international protection. In addition, every effort is made to ensure all the rights stipulated in national and European legislation (for example, the provision of adequate interpretation services to ensure the proper understanding on the part of interested parties of all the stages of the asylum procedure). In the course of 2014, the reform of the asylum system went one step further with the issuing to beneficiaries of international protection of the first uniform residence permits and of the first travel documents, as foreseen by the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. The reform will be completed in 2015 with the adoption of a system of legal aid, as stipulated in European legislation.
With reference to the relevant developments in the European Union as a whole, it should be noted that, in October 2014, the number of asylum seekers was over seventy-two thousand. The overall figure for asylum claims, in the course of the first ten months of the current year, has reached five hundred thousand, already an increase of ten percent compared to the overall figure for the whole of 2013. This substantial increase can be attributed to the situation in the Middle East and in Ukraine.