Friday, 20 January 2012

EASO Press Release on a visit to Greece

Almost to follow-up on our earlier post on EASO's role in Greece, of just a few days ago, EASO yesterday published the following press release.

It's great to have this news, since we've been wondering what EASO was actually doing in Greece...also in view of the fact that our request to have access to the EASO/Greece Operating Plan was denied by the Commission.


We also have the press release in Greek if necessary.  Just get in touch with us on info@aditus.org.mt.


____________________
PRESS RELEASE

European Asylum Support Office delegation visits Greece to discuss progress made since the deployment of Asylum Support Teams.

Press Statements Dr. Visser and Minister Papoutsis,
taken from EASO Press Release
On 18-19 January Dr Robert K. Visser, Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), headed an EASO delegation to Greece. The aim of the visit was to express the commitment of EASO to the challenges Greece faces in the field of asylum, discuss the state of play of the work of the Asylum Support Teams in Greece and take note of the progress made by the national authorities in developing a new Asylum Service, an Initial Reception Service and reducing the existing backlog on asylum requests, since when EASO provided support to Greece, in May 2011.

Greece has faced particular asylum pressures in the past years due to a significant influx of irregular migrants at the European external borders. Following a request made by the Greek Government, in February 2011, the European Asylum Support Office agreed to support Greece and to deploy Asylum Support Teams to Greece to support in building up the Greek asylum and reception services, reduce the backlog of asylum applications and help Greece cope with the mass influx of migrants.

During his visit, the EASO Executive Director held meetings with Mr Papoutsis, Greek Minister for Citizen Protection and Mr Katrivanos , Secretary General, Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity. Moreover, the EASO delegation visited 2 receptions centres, spoke to various officials responsible and took note of the situation 'on the ground'.

In his meeting with Mr Papoutsis, Greek Minister for Citizen Protection, the EASO Executive Director discussed the overall progress being made and focused on key areas where improvements are necessary. Greek Minister Papoutsis thanked the Executive Director for all the valuable support that EASO, together with the EU-Member States, is providing to Greece and reassured him that his country is doing its utmost to meet the obligations set out in the EU asylum acquis. EASO support, which is defined in the Operating Plan agreed by Greece and EASO, is a very valuable tool in this process. It describes in detail the conditions for the deployment of the Asylum Support Teams and the objectives and concrete deliverables to be attained. 

In his meeting with Mr Katrivanos, Secretary General, Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, the EASO Executive Director discussed progress and possible future action. Mr Katrivanos confirmed the full Greek commitment to the programme.

Dr. Visser visit to Greek Asylum Centre, taken from EASO Press Release

During his visit, Dr Visser noted that work is moving in the right direction and significant progress has already been made by the Greek authorities. In comparison to 2010, in 2011 Greece almost doubled the number of examined asylum cases. In 2011 Greece also registered a significant increase in the number of examined asylum appeal cases. In addition, in 2011 the backlog cases have decreased by nearly 30%.

Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work which needs to be done. In this context, Dr Visser explicitly expressed his concern, to the Greek Authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, over the lack of staff within the asylum and reception services.

The aim of EASO and the Greek Government remains that of fulfilling the Operating Plan for Greece by April 2013.

Any further information may be obtained from the European Asylum Support Office by contacting Mr Jean-Pierre Schembri on the following e-mail address: jean-pierre.schembri@ext.ec.europa.eu

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