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Greece Plans Migrant Regularization Program to Combat Labor Shortages

migrants crossing the Mediterranean
Greece is unveiling an ambitious plan for a migrant regularization program in response to severe labor shortages. Image: Migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2016 approached by the US Navy. Credit: US Navy / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

In response to severe labor shortages, Greece is unveiling an ambitious program for a migrant regularization program.

Despite a recent surge in illegal arrivals, Dimitris Kairidis, Greece’s Minister for Migration, announced the initiative aimed at approximately 300,000 undocumented migrants or those with expired residence permits. He said the migrant program would help meet Greece’s needs in particularly important sectors such as agriculture, construction, and tourism.

The migration program, similar to Italy’s 2020 reform, intends to boost public revenue through employment taxes and contributions while addressing acute labor gaps. The plan was discussed at a national security meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Cabinet members and military leaders have also attended the meeting.

Kairidis emphasized that the goal is not to encourage further illegal immigration but to transition from informal to formal labor. He stressed that labor shortages were impeding significant public works projects. Among them, he mentioned the construction of a metro in Thessaloniki and a new airport on Crete.

This plan comes amidst a recent influx of migrants to Greece from Turkey. Over a hundred individuals were rescued off Greece’s eastern islands. Greek authorities reported two separate rescue operations involving migrants, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

In response to the rising arrivals, Greece is also seeking emergency financial assistance from the EU to manage the challenges posed by the increased migration flow.

Greece Short of 80,000 Tourism Workers

Prior to the start of the summer season, Greece was looking for up to 80,000 workers in the tourism industry and was trying to utilize international agreements signed with Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to find some of them.

Despite the fact that a Ministerial Decision was signed in early March to officially include tourism in the sectors that can accept third-country citizens for seasonal work, authorities have found that the gaps are constantly increasing.

Greece Rescues 91 Migrants Stranded on Evros Islet

Earlier on June Greece rescued 91 migrants from a river islet and transferred them to a processing center near the border with Turkey.

Police said the group included 32 men, 25 women, and 34 children. The Red Cross was present at the operation. Several migrants told police they were from Syria.

A video, shot by the crew of Greek private network Open TV, showed many women and children among the group, waving towards the Greek riverbank and calling for help.

It is understood that the migrants have been forwarded to the islet from Turkey by smugglers.

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