Following Greece’s announcement to close 60 refuge housing centers, the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a statement, saying the agency was “deeply concerned” by the Greek move.
This follows comments by Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis that Greece would close 60 refugee facilities by the end of the year.
Noting that there are currently 92 accommodation facilities on the Greek mainland, Mitarakis said “The target is to shut down at least 60 of them by the end of this year,” in an interview with SKAI TV on Tuesday.
“In the last three months we have tripled the asylum decisions and we will deliver 40,000 decisions in the next few weeks,” Mitarakis added.
Regarding the government’s management of migrants, the Minister said the government’s top priority is to separate economic migrants from those seeking a true political refuge.
Mitarakis noted that 60,000 individuals who came through Greece have been granted asylum in the last five years. Of these, 58,500 found jobs and now support themselves. The remaining 1,500 people remain in the transitional rent subsidy program.
In a statement released on Tuesday, a spokesman for the High Commissioner for Refugees said “Forcing people to leave their accommodation without a safety net and measures to ensure their self-reliance may push many into poverty and homelessness.
“Most of the affected refugees do not have regular incomes, many are families with school-aged children, single parents, survivors of violence, and others with specific needs. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and measures to reduce its spread create additional challenges by limiting people’s ability to move and find work or accommodation,” the spokesman added.
The UN agency statement concluded by saying “Refugee integration is a process which requires sincere efforts from refugees to become self-sufficient and give back to their host society. At the same time, effective access to national schemes and integration programs which offer language classes, vocational training, and access to gainful employment are key.”