Greek authorities pre-registered 27,592 refugees and migrants for asylum in a period of two months, which the UN refugee agency’s director in Greece, Philippe Leclerc, described as a “world record”, during a press conference on Tuesday to present the results of the procedure in Athens.
According to the data, of the total number of people pre-registered from June 6 to July 30, 57 percent are men, 43 percent are women and 46 percent are children. The data also shows that 54 percent are Syrians, 27 percent are Afghanis and 13 percent Iraqis. In terms of languages, 47 percent speaks Arabic, 22 percent Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish dialect), 15 percent Dari, 11 percent Farsi and the rest speaks other languages. Authorities also recorded 1,225 unaccompanied children. There are currently 54,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, according to the government’s data.
Leclerc hailed the effort saying that according to his experience in similar procedures around the globe, the speed with which this was concluded constitutes “a world record”.
Speaking at the press conference, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said the situation “is manageable, now that we have a clear picture”, adding that another 5,800 people pre-registered earlier in the year through Skype, and 500 applied for asylum in refugee centers around the country.
Commenting on Greece’s relocation program, Mouzalas said 7,751 people are ready to be sent to other countries while 2,000 refugees and migrants have applied to the voluntary repatriation. He also said the ministry is preparing a plan to transfer the 11,000 people staying on the islands to the mainland.
He also estimated that there are about 4,000-6,000 people who have not registered because they are “in movement”. “It’s a natural phenomenon. A percentage has been absorbed by the existing migrant communities, mainly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, another [percentage] refused pre-registration hoping for an opening of the borders, others happened to be out during the registration, others are staying in self-managed venues, while there’s also human error,” he told journalists.
Mouzalas also announced that some hosting centers will eventually close or the number of migrants will, be reduced as some people will move into apartments and hotels rented by the UNHCR.
Those who pre-registered will receive dates for their new appointments with the asylum office in the next two weeks, the head of Greece’s asylum service, Maria Stavropoulou, said, adding that they will have to wait another year and a half to know if they succeeded in receiving asylum. Stavropoulou also said her office received 264 percent more applications n 2016 than in 2015 – without including the pre-registration numbers.
The joint press conference was also attended by the representative of European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Dimitris Pagidas.