Greek asylum to refugees “not indefinite” and reversible

10 February 2020
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Greece will only grant refugee protection for three years as it struggles to integrate foreigners, the conservative government’s migration minister Notis Mitarakis said in remarks published Sunday (9 February).

Greece last year was the first EU port of entry for migrants and has struggled to manage the influx, with many kept in overcrowded camps on the Aegean Greek islands near the Turkish coast.

“The asylum we grant has a duration of three years, it is not indefinite,” Mitarakis told To Vima weekly.

“If conditions change in a country (of origin), asylum may not be renewed,” Mitarakis added.

“It is difficult to integrate different populations,” he said.

More than 36,000 asylum-seekers are currently crammed into camps on five islands, where the official capacity is for 6,200 people and in conditions repeatedly condemned by aid agencies.

Overpopulation in migrant camps on Lesbos and other islands near Turkey has led to an outpouring of anger in recent days among island residents and asylum-seekers.

Since the migration crisis erupted in 2015, mainly fuelled by the war in Syria, Greece has granted asylum to around 40,000 people, Mitaraki said.

Another 87,000 asylum applications are pending, he added.

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