UNHCR: Greece has improved treatment of asylum seekers
Greece has made "a lot of progress" in its treatment of asylum seekers over the past two years, the European director of the UN refugee agency said Friday.
"A lot of progress has been made," said Anne-Willem Bijleveld of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after meeting with Greece's foreign affairs, health and public order ministers.
Asylum seekers "are no longer simply sent back, there is an increase in the number of applications, which is a good sign that Greece has conformed to its obligations," Bijleveld said.
"There is a lot of goodwill," he said, noting that 9.7 percent of 1,295 asylum applications made over the first half of this year was granted.
In December 1998, the UNHCR criticized Greece for its extremely slow procedures and for depurating asylum seekers to Turkey. The refugee agency also denounced the poor living conditions of applicants awaiting a decision since they were not provided with accommodation.
Greece has five reception centers for asylum seekers. The largest accommodates 300 people and is managed by the state. Four smaller centers are led by non-governmental organizations -- ATHENS (AFP)
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