Greece announced on Tuesday that the number of migrants and asylum seekers residing at Greek island facilities has dropped by 76 percent compared to October 2020.
According to figures released by the Migration & Asylum Ministry, the number of asylum seekers residing in similar facilities across the country dropped by 47 percent compared to the same time last year.
The largest decrease is recorded among those living in Samos by 92 percent, followed by Chios with 91 percent, Leros with 88 percent, Lesvos with 65 percent, and Kos with 54 percent.
Arrival flows in the first ten months of 2021 reduced by 67 percent in islands and by 46 percent in the rest of the mainland, compared to the first ten months of 2020.
After systematic efforts, in the first ten months of 2021, 9,794 people left for Europe or third countries through mechanisms of expulsion, return and relocation of third-country nationals, while 7,242 people arrived in Greece, with the balance of departures/arrivals remaining positive, reads the ministry’s new report.
In October 2020, a total of 71,247 asylum seekers resided in all the structures managed or supervised by the Ministry of Migration & Asylum, while in October 2021, the number is 37,951.
Pending cases at the Asylum Service and the Appeals Authority recorded a decrease of 52 percent, reaching a total of 41,951 when in October 2020 there were 87,922 such cases.
Regarding mobility in legal migration and especially Golden Visas, the main country of origin of investors in Greece are Chinese nationals, at a rate of 67.8 percent, followed by Turkish nationals (64 percent) and Russians (6 percent).
In October 2020 – October 2021 some 2,030 applications for the initial residence permit and 343 applications for the renewal of residence were submitted.
“Despite the fact that the pandemic crisis continues, there is mobility in the field of legal migration,” said Migration & Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi.
“Greece will continue to follow the same strict but fair migration policy that brings results. We have a clear position against smuggling, but in favor of legal migration,” he noted.
Greece defends migrants policy
Earlier on Tuesday, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended Greece’s migration policy during an interview on British TV.
He said that Greece has a tough but fair policy on migration. He noted that Greece has accepted more than 50,000 asylum applications in the last three years and that no one can accuse it of not respecting human rights.
At the same time, he added, “I have an obligation to protect our borders” and he called on Turkey to honor its own side the EU-Turkey Joint Statement of 2016.
Greece has been accused of implementing a policy of pushing back asylum seekers and migrants in the Aegean. Last week, Mitsotakis snapped at a Dutch journalist who openly accused him of “lying” about alleged migrant pushbacks during a press conference in Athens.
Greek forces are out rescuing people at sea “every single day,” he said. “Yes, we are intercepting boats that come from Turkey as we have the right to do in accordance with European regulation and waiting for the Turkish Coast Guard to come and pick them up to return them to Turkey.”
He continued: “Rather than putting the blame on Greece you should put the blame on those who have been instrumentalizing migration systematically, pushing people in a desperate situation from a safe country, because I need to remind you that people who are in Turkey are not in danger,” Mitsotakis said. “We have a tough but fair policy in migration.”