Fleeing a civil war and terrorism, so many Syrian refugees are flocking to Greece that the number applying for asylum has risen more than 250 percent this year.
That came from the head of the agency charged with deliberating their cases, Maria Stavropoulou, who told Kathimerini 230 Syrians a month this year asked for asylum, which had almost never been given in Greece to immigrants.
That was compared to 65 a month during the same period a year ago. “They have started trusting the system a little more and this draws people in,” she said.
Where previous governments rounded up immigrants to deport them and rarely gave asylum even in extreme cases, the new Radical Left SYRIZA-led administration is moving toward leniency and closing detention centers hold them.
Stavropoulou said the government now is giving asylum to 50 percent of applicants, compared to 0.5 percent previously and opening the country to immigrants.
But to process the cases she said the agency needs to increase its staff from 200 to at least 500 people and said its annual budget of 12 million euros, half paid by the European Union, isn’t enough.