A group of lawyers working on a voluntary basis to help refugees and immigrants seeking legal status in Greece yesterday accused the police of having stopped processing asylum applications nearly a month ago.
“For the past 25 days, the Athens immigration unit has closed its doors and is refusing applications while a large number of refugees are at risk of being arrested and deported,” the statement issued by the Organization of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers said.
Questioned about the allegations yesterday, a senior officer at the unit on Iera Odos told Kathimerini that the long delays were due to the large backlog of asylum applications.
According to Marianna Tzeferakou, one of the lawyers from the group, these are “the usual excuses.” “This practice is part and parcel of the country’s general policy toward asylum seekers and all those who merit international protection,” she said, adding that the migrants were being deprived of their rights as enshrined in international law.
I was actually down in Omonia yesterday and saw an unusually large number of police. They seemed to be targeting young black men who were on their own. I saw at least three incidents of this on my way from the main bus station to the heart of Omonia (a five minute walk). It could have been totally unrelated, but now that I read the article, I am wondering if they are doing one of their “clean-up” operations.