asylum seekers

A group of 175 asylum seekers are leaving for Germany today, consisting of 85 unaccompanied minors and 90 families with children from migrant camps on the Greek islands, in order to be reunited with their families.

According to the announcement by the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, the reunification of families takes place within the framework of the Dublin Regulation.

“The current mission for 175 foreign asylum seekers to leave Greece, to be reunited with their families in Germany, contributes to the ongoing efforts made for the gradual, continuous and effective decongestion of the islands. Cooperation with the German government is yielding concrete results,” the announcement said.

“The program, which was announced months ago and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, has now entered the implementation stage. In coordination and cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, the first return flights are planned,” the statement explained.

Greek Deputy Minister of Immigration, George Koumoutsakos, in an interview last week said that Greece started an EU-funded program which could be a model: people who return voluntarily to Afghanistan or Iraq receive 2,000 euros.

“This start-up aid does not make people feel lost when they return, and the money also serves the local economy in the countries of origin,” said the Deputy Minister of Immigration.

“The number of migrants arriving in the Eastern Aegean islands has dropped ‘dramatically’ since March, due to increased border controls and the Covid 19 pandemic, but the numbers have been rising again for a week now,” he said. “Turkey will not hesitate to use immigration again to put pressure on Europe.”

Koumoutsakos emphasised that so far, the Greek authorities have managed very well to isolate the refugee camps on the islands from Covid-19 because “the Greek health system has proven to be strong and has gained more experience.”