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Greek Migration Min: Refugees See Greece as a Transit Country

mouzalasDeputy Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that refugees see Greece as a transit country and that Turkey is not doing its part in stemming the migrant inflow.
Speaking to Deutsche Welle, the Greek deputy reiterated that the refugee problem is a European problem and should be approached as such.
Mouzalas spoke on the sidelines of the Transatlantic Council on Migration in Berlin. Contrary to what has been happening in the past, Mouzalas told Deutsche Welle, that “today Greece is a transit country for refugees and migrants. The majority want to leave and move to Central Europe.”
The Greek minister said that European borders are open only to citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. Refugees from these countries can cross the border Greece shares with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and from there move on to the rest of Europe.
Nationals of other Middle Eastearn and African countries are considered migrants and if they stay in Greece they must apply for asylum or return to their home country on their own will. However, Mouzalas said, for different reasons, the return to their country of origin is next to impossible.
Furthermore, the deputy minister stressed, Turkey’s stance adds to the problem. According to Mouzalas, Turkey is doing almost nothing to honor the agreement made with the European Union for stemming the flow of migrants who cross into Greece illegally.
Mouzalas said that the refugee trafficking rings operating from the Turkish coasts have not stopped transferring migrants to the nearby Greek islands.
“In the past 15 days we returned 130 refugees to Turkey. During the same period, about 30,000 refugees and illegal migrants have arrived from Turkey. This ratio leads to an impasse. Europe needs to take actions so that returns take place sooner and in larger numbers,” Mouzalas said.
The deputy minister also underlined that Greece had asked for 1,800 Frontex staff and so far only 900 have arrived. The same applies to the number of boats or fingerprinting machines, where only about one-third of the quantities requested has arrived.
Mouzalas admitted that Greece has delayed establishing refugee registration points (hotspots). He said that this is not an excuse but more of a call for help from the European Union.

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