EU's Voluntary Return scheme: 140 Iraqi nationals will return home

metanasts prosfyges lesvos 3

metanasts prosfyges lesvos 3

On Thursday, 140 Iraqi nationals will voluntarily return home on a charter flight, the Migration & Asylum Ministry announced.

One requirement is that they must be tested for the novel coronavirus before the flight.

The return of the 140 Iraqis marks the start of the EU's Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) program.

The AVRR looks to support asylum seekers who wish to return to their countries. At the same time, it helps the Aegean islands, many of which are overwhelmed.

The programme was initially rolled out in March but has remained largely inactive due to the border closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, it was announced that the Greek government begun giving €2,000 to asylum seekers located on various Aegean islands, to incentivise them to go back to their home countries.

A total of 5,000 asylum seekers are eligible for the €2,000 grants with the qualifications including having arrived on the islands of Leros, Samos, Lesvos, Kos or Chios by the end of last year.