The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has announced a doubling in the size of its staff and operations for 2020 amid a newly-escalating migration crisis some officials worry will rival or exceed that of 2015.
The E.U. agency, which 'acts as a center of expertise on asylum,' is focusing its expansion in four key member states: Greece, Italy, Malta, and Cyprus.
“In 2020, EASO will see its operational deployments double in size, with up to 550 personnel deployed in Greece, 150 in Italy, 120 in Cyprus and 60 in Malta,” the agency announced in a statement.
“In addition, interpreters and security personnel will be deployed in the four Member States, bringing the total deployment up to as many as 2,000 personnel.”
While deployed personnel will double in Greece, Malta, and Cyprus, those numbers will be reduced in Italy and realigned to meet the country's "changing needs" – namely, the deployment of additional "Research Officers to the 26 Tribunals which handle appeal cases."
The EASO asserts it will be "heavily involved" in "disembarkations and voluntary relocations" in Italy and Malta, pursuant to the terms of the so-called 'Malta Agreement,' a new migrant reception and relocation pact signed in 2019.
In Greece, where migrants flows once again reached a crisis level during the second half of 2019, the EASO will “roughly double its personnel in the country, including with almost three times as many caseworkers working in close cooperation with the Greek Asylum Service.”
“Notably, EASO’s operational presence on the Greek mainland will increase by four times the level of 2019, with personnel being deployed to eight new locations in Thessaloniki and Ioannina to support the country’s regular asylum procedure.”
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