ATHENS — Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi, during a joint press briefing with government spokesperson Stelios Petsas, on Monday presented seven changes that have taken place in the management of refugee and migrant flows.
These changes, according to the minister, concern:
1. The reduction of flows by 73 pct this year compared to last year. Arrivals in the first nine months of 2020 amounted to 12,289, while the figure for the corresponding period in 2019 was 44,734.
2. Speeding up the processing of asylum requests, with the number of decisions increased by 82 pct in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. At the same time, there was a 36 pct decrease in pending asylum cases. As of next month, the minister announced, the Register of Assistant Rapporteurs on the islands will be put into operation.
3. The creation of a positive balance of departures-arrivals, as in September there were 1,529 departures of asylum seekers and 792 arrivals. Since the beginning of the year, according to Mitarachi, a total of 7,435 people have left the country, while 3,151 agreed relocations to other EU countries are pending.
4. The control of non-governmental organisations, by creating a new operating and financial management framework. As Mitarachi clarified, "we cooperate very well with several organisations and international legal entities, but the illegal action is not tolerated."
5. Limiting assistance in the form of housing and benefits provided to those with refugee status after a one-month transition period from their recognition as refugees. The Minister of Migration noted that "in the past we gave financial incentives for them to come to our country illegally."
6. The decongestion of the Aegean islands, with the residents in reception and identification centres having decreased by 53 pct in the first nine months of 2020 compared to last year. Mitarachi underlined that by the end of the year the problem of congestion on the islands will have been largely dealt with.
7. The creation of closed-type centres on the islands. The minister announced that the tender for the new structures in Samos, Kos and Leros has been completed and there is a contractor, while within the month the tender process will begin at the other entry points of the country.