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Greece Announces Big Drop in Migrant Numbers

Migrants Greece
A migrant boat approaches the island of Lesvos. Credit: Greek Coast Guard

On Thursday, Greece announced a massive drop in the number of migrants and asylum seekers in the country, particularly on the Aegean islands.

Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis said that the population of migrants on the North Aegean islands dropped from 6.41% of the total population in March 2021 to just 1.13% in March 2022.

“All regions of the country are well below the 1% threshold we had set as our target in 2019; soon the North Aegean will follow suit,” said Mitarakis.

He added: “The strict but fair migration policy that we apply consistently, has allowed us, today, to draw a very different map concerning migration. The substantial decongestion of the islands, the mainland and the large urban centers continues. Now, we are leaving the migration crisis behind us for good.”

Greek authorities released a report according to which the number of refugee and migrant residents overall on the islands as of March 2022 recorded a reduction by 78% compared to March 2021.

The largest decrease is recorded among residents in Samos by 90%, followed by Chios with 80%, Lesvos with 78%, Leros with 72%, and Kos with 23%.

The number of refugees on the Greek islands is 3,005. Of these, 2,731 (91%) reside in organized camps while the rest are residing in other accommodation centers, the report notes.

In the same month, a total of 27,396 asylum seekers resided in all the accommodation centers managed or supervised by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum throughout Greece while in March 2021, the number was 59,212.

The report also notes that there were 14,630 arrivals of Ukrainian citizens in March 2022: 31.48% are minors, 22.06% are between 18-34 years, and 46.46% are 35 years or older.

Greece rescues 64 migrants at Evros

On Thursday, Greek police announced that they had rescued 64 people from a river island at the Turkish-Greek border.

Police reportedly located them on Wednesday night after they had been informed of their situation, but law enforcement sources claim that the asylum seekers refused to enter the police boats at the time.

When officers traveled to the island once again during the day on Thursday, the asylum seekers reportedly agreed to enter the boats. They were then brought to the Greek side of the Evros River.

Among the group were 46 men, eight women, and ten children, according to Greek officials. All 64 reportedly said that they were Syrian nationals seeking asylum.

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