Many other asylum-seekers hoping to reunite with their families have not been so fortunate. Nearly 5,000 people, including 700 lone children, made family reunification requests in Greece in 2016, but only 1,107 of them have joined their families, according to the U.N.children’s fund.
Iza Papailiou, head of the Greek asylum service’s “Dublin Unit”, which implements the E.U.’s Dublin regulation on processing asylum seekers, describes numerous difficulties for family reunification.
She told Human Rights Watch that other asylum seekers have been misinformed, encountered legal and administrative blockages and had problems obtaining and verifying documentation or communicating across borders.
“It isn’t just about our administration or that of our counterparts – sometimes it’s difficult for applicants to submit documentation or we need documents from a relative in another state,” Papailiou said. “There are many legal issues. Sometimes they lose track of the relative. The authorities can’t find that person so we have to contact the applicants here in Greece, advising them to try to find them and go to the Asylum Service.
“And poor documentation of identity – a surname somehow written differently by the interpreter – can cause problems,” she added.