ATHENS – As virtually all some 100,00 refugees and migrants in Greece are seeking asylum after the European Union shut them out, the Migration Ministry said it would add extra staff to review applications that can take two years or longer to be decided.
An afternoon shift will be put in place to help workers bring down the pile of pending applications, said Kathimerini, with two shifts to run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The new hours will apply immediately and includes all permanent and fixed-term employees of regional and central asylum services.
The ministry said it’s aimed at “effectively addressing the volume of pending asylum applications and ensuring the proper functioning of the Asylum Service,” as well as ensuring the “better management of the employees” that will soon be added.
There are some 104,000 applications on hold as the New Democracy government keeps asking the EU for more help and plans to replace camps on islands holding some 50,000 refugees and migrants with detention centers to sort out those ineligible for sanctuary.
Those rejected would be sent back to Turkey under an essentially-suspended swap deal with the EU which has taken back only about 2,000, with New Democracy wanting to deport another 20,000.
They had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands, especially Afghanistan and Syria’s civil war, but also those from areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa looking for work and not fearing for their lives.
It hasn’t been said what happens to those who are returned to Turkey, whether they stay there, seek asylum or are shipped back to their homelands, with the slow pace of sanctuary reviews in Greece another complication as well.