Greece to process 1,500 asylum requests from Germany

Greece will process 1,500 asylum applications from Germany as part of a deal signed between the two countries, Greece's migration minister said Wednesday.

Greece to process 1,500 asylum requests from Germany
Dimitris Vitsas, Greece's migration minister, spoke at a press conference in Athens on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

“In the first half of 2018 there were 1,500 requests for processing by Germany, and they will be accepted,” Dimitris Vitsas told reporters.

Berlin and Athens signed a deal at a recent EU migrant summit aimed at stemming arrivals to Germany and Austria – with some asylum seekers likely to be returned to the first EU country they reached, often southern Mediterranean states such as Greece and Spain.

Vitsas said the deal sought “to find a uniquely European solution to regulate the migrant influx and limit unilateral actions.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has marketed the Greek accord and another with Spain as a way to placate hardline rebels within her government.

In return for processing the asylum applications of migrants who reached Germany, Berlin has promised to accept 2,900 migrants from Greece for family reunification, Vitsas said.

The minister said that arrivals from Turkey had fallen by 96 percent since their peak in the summer of 2015, but Greece is still struggling to look after some 60,000 migrants already on its territory.

He said Greece was dealing with “problems with integration and housing” for migrants, especially in overcrowded camps on the Dodecanese islands, just a short boat ride from Turkey.

The International Organization for Migration says more than 50,000 migrants and asylum seekers have reached Europe by boat since the start of 2018, with more than 1,400 dying en route.

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France ‘will not welcome migrants’ from Lampedusa: interior minister

France "will not welcome migrants" from the island, Gérald Darmanin has insisted

France 'will not welcome migrants' from Lampedusa: interior minister

France will not welcome any migrants coming from Italy’s Lampedusa, interior minister Gérald Darmanin has said after the Mediterranean island saw record numbers of arrivals.

Some 8,500 people arrived on Lampedusa on 199 boats between Monday and Wednesday last week, according to the UN’s International Organisation for
Migration, prompting European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to travel there Sunday to announce an emergency action plan.

According to Darmanin, Paris told Italy it was “ready to help them return people to countries with which we have good diplomatic relations”, giving the
example of Ivory Coast and Senegal.

But France “will not welcome migrants” from the island, he said, speaking on French television on Tuesday evening.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has called on Italy’s EU partners to share more of the responsibility.

The recent arrivals on Lampedusa equal more than the whole population of the tiny Italian island.

The mass movement has stoked the immigration debate in France, where political parties in the country’s hung parliament are wrangling over a draft law governing new arrivals.

France is expected to face a call from Pope Francis for greater tolerance towards migrants later this week during a high-profile visit to Mediterranean city Marseille, where the pontiff will meet President Emmanuel Macron and celebrate mass before tens of thousands in a stadium.