19 May 2016

From the end of May and for two months, the Greek Asylum Service will conduct a pre-registration exercise together with UNHCR and EASO for all those who arrived in Greece before 20 March. This initiative is meant to improve the system for applying for international protection in the country, which is currently overloaded and at a standstill, with thousands of applications which cannot be processed in a decent time, and thousands more of people who are waiting to be registered.

At present, asylum seekers are invited to call the Asylum Service using Skype. Services in certain languages are available only for as little as one hour a week, which makes it almost impossible for people to register. Many have been trying to register for several weeks, without success. Applying for asylum in Greece is the necessary first step for a family reunification request under the Dublin regulation, or for entering into the relocation mechanism if conditions are fulfilled.

Under the new system, teams will be deployed to the open reception facilities to register people directly in the accommodation sites. At the end of the registration, people will be issued with an official asylum seeker card. Leaflets are currently being distributed in the open reception centres to inform people of their options. This mass exercise in pre-registration, which is expected to target 35,000 people in the first phase, is listed by the European Commission as one of the measures to be taken by Greece to accelerate the registration of asylum seekers for relocation purposes.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 May 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.