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111 refugees left Greece for Finland, yet EU relocation target falls extremely short

One hundred ten Syrian refugees among them also 36 unaccompanied minors left Greece for Finland on Monday in the context of the relocation scheme. Families, individual persons and unaccompanied minors boarded on a plane from Athens international airport Eleftherios Venizelos on Monday morning.

According to Asylum Office, the group consisted of 16 families with a total 59 members, and 52 individuals. Among them were 36 unaccompanied minors.

Heitham Tarabis, 16, from Damascus was one of them. He told Athens News Agency “My prime interest is to bring my family form Turkey to Finland in terms of the family unification scheme.” The teenager had spent several months in the make-shirt camps at the port of Piraeus and Idomeni, before he found a roof over his head in a hotel via the official program for unaccompanied minors. Apart form bringing his family to Finland, he is keen to start studies in technology.

In a couple of days, on November 4th, the relocation program might celebrate one year anniversary. However there is no real reason to celebrate.

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said that only 5,000 people have been relocated, while another 7,500 are ready bu member-states do not accept them or delay their relocation.

The Minister stressed that 30,000 relocation ought to have taken place by now.


Maria Stavropoulou, the head of the Asylum Service, said that 266 unaccompanied minors awaiting member-states to reply to their relocation requests. “Several countries reject the requests saying that they do not have the proper facilities for minors.”

However also the relocation of adults or families faces problems with EU member-states to delay requests by either delaying the reply or by delaying the travel organization in case they have accepted and approved the requests.

Some of the 7,500 ready to relocate have been waiting for even more than 6 months.

Finland is cooperative and has accepted so far another 430 relocations. However, for the minors relocation, Finland does not accept Iraqis.

On Thursday, 170 refugees are expected to fly to France, the country that tops the list in accepting relocation requests.

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