With over 16,000 asylum seekers stuck on various Greek islands, overcrowding in refugee camps has been an ongoing concern, many camps holding up to three times the number of residents planned.
In a bid to improve the situation and speed up asylum processing for migrants, Greece’s parliament approved new legislation on Tuesday.
As highlighted by Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas before the vote, the bill “will not magically solve the refugee and migration issue”, but says it will go a long way in cutting the wait time for thousands seeking asylum.
“What are we seeking to do with this bill? To carry out a speedy processing of asylum claims while respecting the rights of those seeking international protection,” Mr Vitsas said.
The new law will see additional staff employed to deal with asylum requests.
But the bill has also come under fire, with 13 human rights groups criticising it for not respecting the rights of refugees.
It will see the appeals list for rejected applications shortened, and will also give the option of the travel restrictions currently imposed on asylum seekers on the islands, to be extended to include those on the mainland.
While the number of arrivals into Greece is well under that of 2015, the change in policy has been motivated by a recent rise in refugees attempting to enter the country via land and sea, United Nations data shows.