Let’s hope none of these funds “go missing” and that the authorities get to use them to overhaul a seriously broken, almost non-existent, asylum system. Greece has the lowest asylum recognition in Europe. In 2009, it granted refugee status to 0.04 percent of applicants. That’s just 11 people out of almost 30,000. It abolished the appeals procedure in July 2009 meaning that rejected applicants had no way to challenge the decision.
The European Commission is prepared to provide Greece with financial assistance to overhaul its beleaguered asylum system, which has more than 46,000 outstanding cases, the European Union home affairs commissioner said in Athens yesterday.
“We are committed to help and assist Greece with money but also infrastructure and know-how to build a modern system,” Cecilia Malmstrom said following a meeting with Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis. “We are speaking of quite a big sum from different programs.”
Malmstrom said Greece would have to absorb the EU funds by 2013, after showing that it has improved the internal administration of its asylum system. “We hope that the reform process will start as soon as possible,” she said.
Papoutsis said a presidential decree that would fast-track the processing of outstanding applications is awaiting President Karolos Papoulias’s approval.
Please also see the Human Rights Watch article from last week
The Greek government’s failure to follow through on its promise to reform the country’s broken asylum system creates an urgent need for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the European Commission to intervene, Human Rights Watch said today.
A presidential decree that would introduce emergency reforms, which had already been postponed until September 1, 2010, has been pushed back again for several months following the recent government reshuffle. Full-scale reform of the system is now unlikely before the end of 2011, at the earliest.
“Despite its formal commitments, the Greek government has utterly failed to meet its most basic responsibilities to protect refugees,” said Bill Frelick, Refugee Program director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN refugee agency has a mandate to protect refugees when a government is unable or unwilling. It needs to step in now and take over processing asylum claims.”
Read the full article here