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Greece Stops Deporting Illegal Syrian Migrants

SyriansAt the same time the country is cracking down on illegal immigrants and assaults against them are continuing, the Greek government said it would halt deportation of immigrants from Syria who entered the country illegally after human rights groups complained that people fleeing the country’s civil war were not being properly screened for asylum.
Public Order Ministry official Manolis Katriadakis told a news conference organized in Athens by UNHCR that deportations had been suspended starting April 9, with the order to be reviewed every six months. UNHCR officials said the number of U.N.-registered refugees who fled the fighting in Syria had risen to more than 1.35 million, with an average of 8,000 leaving the country daily.
That marks a 350,000 jump from the figure available in early March. “No Syrians are being held in detention, but may be kept for a few days until their identity is established,” Katriadakis said. “The measures will remain in place until the situation in Syria has calmed.”
Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern that Greek authorities fail to distinguish between immigrants with legitimate refugee status claims and others who enter the country illegally. The government counters that it faces greater difficulties that other countries in Europe as Greece is the busiest transit point for illegal immigration in the EU.
Katriadakis said that 7,927 Syrian nationals had been arrested in 2012 for entering Greece illegally, compared to 1,522 the previous year. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has been leading the charge against immigrants and accused of assaulting them, which it has denied.

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