Europe fails to comply with EU-Turkey deal: Greece
18 Jan 2017 - 10:46
ATHENS, Greece: Europe does not hold up its end of the EU-Turkey deal, official Greek government numbers show.
Nine thousand more refugees should have been relocated in 2016 based on the EU-Turkey deal that was signed in March, according to the Greek Migration Ministry.
The reason these refugees remain stranded in Greece is that EU countries refuse to let them in. In addition, the acceptance of relocation requests by member states should happen in a ten-day period, however, it usually takes up to six months, the ministry reports.
The EU-Turkey deal states that Turkey should stop the refugees from illegally entering Europe, while EU countries would participate on the relocation program in order to help decongest Greece.
After the deal was implemented, the Greek Asylum Service had approved more than 21,400 relocation requests by refugees. A little over 13,600 places became available in EU countries, hence leaving 9,000 stuck in Greece.
According to the ministry, the main reason behind this is the lack of space in appropriate facilities in destination countries. Also, countries like Hungary and Poland add to the problem by not accepting any refugees whatsoever.
Meanwhile, Turkey respects the deal by almost eliminating the refugee flows from its coasts to the Greek islands.
Official government data show that in 2016, more than 51,000 people requested international protection in Greece, more than half of them being Syrian.
According to UNHCR, almost 173,500 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece last year, with more than 62,000 remaining in the country.