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Migration Minister: Without EU-Turkey deal, another 180,000 refugees would be in Greece by now

Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas warned on Tuesday that another 180,000 refugees and migrants would have come to Greece in the last three months, if there was no EU – Turkey deal.

During a press conference, Mouzalas stressed that Greece would face an  unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants, should the EU – Turkey deal collapse. However, he assured that Greece persists and will persist so that the agreement with Turkey would not collapse. He also denied scenarios about Berlin preparing a Plan B.

After the coup attempt on July 15th, EU-Turkish relations turned sour due to the mass purge of thousands of alleged Gulenists, with Ankara insisting that as of October Turkish citizens should be granted visa-free within the European Union and Brussels insisting that Turkey has to fulfill it a series of EU requirements first.

Nevertheless, and with regards to refugees in Greece, Mouzalas gave the figures of refugees who have been pre-registered for asylum.

In the time between 9th June – 30h July 2016

a total of 27,592 refugees and immigrants have been pre-registered for asylum

– 57% of them are men and 43% are women

– There are also 1,225 unaccompanied children in camps

– Almost one in two families (48%) of families who participated in the pre-registration have two or more children.

Asylum applications increased by 264% in 2016 when compared to 2015.

The Minister admitted thought that authorities have no information about the whereabouts of 4,000 refugees and migrants as they have not participated in the pre-registration program. They have either refused to register or they have moved to migrants’ communities, or they anticipate to leave the country, hoping that the borders will soon open again. “Some are afraid, that if they register, they will be stuck here,” the Minister said.

Pre-registered applications might need one to one and a half year to be approve dor rejected.

There are currently 58,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, 11,000 of them o the islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea.

Mouzalas criticized the EU member-states that refuse to comply with the signed relocation scheme and said “7,000 people are ready to relocate but there are no countries to accept them.”

Refugees reluctant to leave Greece

On the other hand, and much to my knowledge, there are indeed EU countries offering asylum to refugees currently in Greece but they are reluctant to accept the offer, not knowing what conditions are to expect in their new host country.

Some refugees are almost a year in Greece and they have managed to build their own small communities in camps thus creating and sharing a feeling of togetherness. And they are afraid to make a new start in unknown land. Alone.

So, Ali, Mustafa, Leyla and Ayse prefer to stay in Greece than to go alone to XYZ EU country, when in their asylum application they have marked as top priority countries where they have relatives.

I have spoken to a couple of them and they said that they don’t even know whether they will be eligible to travel to visit their relatives in Germany, for example, or Sweden, if they accept the asylum offer and land into a different country. “Will I be stuck in my new country whether I like it or not?” one asked and another asked whether he “would be able to find a job.”

I did not have any answer to any of their questions.

PS I would propose that the asylum authorities and the NGOs dealing with such issues take time to brief the asylum seekers/refugees about their future and their movement abilities outside Greece.

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One comment

  1. More bullshit. They just make up numbers and think everyone is stupid enough to believe them. There is no scientific study on potential refugee flows to Greece, but there is also no scientific reason to think that it would be limited to 180,000.