migrants
Image course: Eurokinissi

With borders closed and international travel at a standstill, illegal immigration to Greece has been drastically reduced as revealed by the latest figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

This reduction in numbers has given Greece’s civil, health and military authorities the necessary breathing space and reduced strain on resources to combat and bring under control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In fact Greece has been praised by the international community for its management of the virus crisis amidst a barrage of challenges it had to face, ranging from economic crisis, assaults on its borders and thousands of refugees and illegal migrants on congested islands.

According to the UNHCR, there were 39 arrivals on the Aegean island for the period 30 March – 04 April, a decrease from last week’s 56 arrivals and from last year’s 184 arrivals during the same period. The average daily arrivals on all islands this week equalled 6, compared to 8 in the previous week.

Entry Points by Sea

Lesvos received the highest number of arrivals (39), the Dodecanese islands, Samos and Chios received no arrivals.

Departures to the mainland

This week, 285 asylum-seekers departed, once authorised by the authorities, from the Aegean islands to the mainland. Of those, 221 were transferred by the Government with the support of UNHCR to open reception facilities/sites on the mainland.

To ‘shield’ the elderly and immune-compromised from the risk of COVID19, UNHCR is currently prioritising their transfer out of the island RICs and into ESTIA apartments on the islands or the mainland. This week, 115 people were transferred, of whom 62 to ESTIA on the mainland and 53 on the island.