Mi­grants at Pi­raeus to be moved to Pelo­pon­nese

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The evac­u­a­tion of some 4,000 mi­grants from a makeshift set­tle­ment at the site of the old Athens in­ter­na­tional air­port at Elliniko is be­ing post­poned un­til af­ter the end of July as an al­ter­na­tive venue has yet to be found. The cur­rent pri­or­ity, govern­ment sources say, is to move out of Pi­raeus some 1,500 mi­grants, most of whom are in le­gal limbo as their res­i­dence per­mits have ex­pired.

The mi­grants cur­rently liv­ing in camps in Pi­raeus are likely to be moved to one of sev­eral venues be­ing pre­pared by au­thor­i­ties in the Pelo­pon­nese. Re­gional Gov­er­nor Pet­ros Ta­toulis has been in talks with of­fi­cials at the De­fense Min­istry to make avail­able dis­used mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion.

Mean­while, ef­forts to regis­ter thou­sands of mi­grants in camps across the coun­try are con­tin­u­ing, with some 20,000 mi­grants reg­is­tered in Athens and Thes­sa­loniki by late yes­ter­day. Ac­cord­ing to a break­down of the data, more than 45 per­cent of mi­grants reg­is­tered are chil­dren aged un­der 17.

Ar­rivals of mi­grants from neigh­bor­ing Turkey have plum­meted fol­low­ing the sign­ing of an agree­ment be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Ankara in March to crack down on hu­man smug­gling across the Aegean. Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions refugee agency (UNHCR), 67,415 mi­grants ar­rived in Greece from Turkey in Jan­uary, 57,066 in Fe­bru­ary, drop­ping to 26,971 in March, then plung­ing to 3,650 in April, 1,721 in May and 1,488 in June. The down­ward trend ap­pears to be con­tin­u­ing, with only 40 mi­grants ar­riv­ing in Greece from Turkey in the first few days of July.

Last year, ar­rivals in the sum­mer were much larger with 31,318 ar­riv­ing in June, 54,899 ar­riv­ing in July, be­fore a record 211,663 reached Greek shores in Oc­to­ber.

The east­ern Aegean is­land of Lesvos has been the hard­est hit by the mi­grant in­flux. Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the is­land’s air­port in Myti­lene, there were 4,825 char­ter flights in June, com­pared to 15,026 char­ter flights in the same month last year, a drop of 68 per­cent.

Store own­ers on the is­land say they have seen their turnover plunge by 70 per­cent over the past year.

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