ATHENS – As part of a plan to cut down the more than 96,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, most seeking asylum after the European Union closed its borders to them, Greece released a list of 12 countries considered safe for them for return.
Most of those seeking sanctuary in Greece come from the Mideast and Asia, especially Afghanistan and fleeing Syria’s civil war and have priority for asylum, over economic migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.
The refugees and migrants had come to Greece from Turkey, which allows human traffickers to operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU, with other countries reneging on promises to help take some of the overload.
The list of countries considered safe for migrants in Greece who could then be deported is comprised of Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Albania, Georgia, Ukraine, India and Armenia, for those whose asylum applications are rejected.
That is under a joint decision signed by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, based on article 87 of the new 2019 law on applying for asylum which states that a country can be judged safe if an applicant hasn’t cited “serious reasons why the country is not a safe country of origin for the applicant.”
The new measure also includes plans to speed asylum applications as many have waited two years or more, stuck in refugee and detention centers on islands and the mainland, as the New Democracy government also wants Turkey to take back 20,000 although only about some 2000 have been deported since the EU deal was signed.