Mi­grants on hunger strike to be re­united with fam­i­lies

Cape Argus - - WORLD -

ATHENS: A group of mainly Syr­ian women and chil­dren who have been stranded in Greece have pitched tents op­po­site par­lia­ment in Athens in a protest against delays in re­unit­ing with rel­a­tives in Ger­many.

Some, who say they have been in Greece for over a year, said they had be­gun a hunger strike.

“Our fam­ily ties are stronger than your il­le­gal agree­ments,” read a ban­ner held up by one woman, re­fer­ring to deals on refugees be­tween EU na­tions.

Greek me­dia have re­ported that Greece and Ger­many in­for­mally agreed in May to slow down refugee re­uni­fi­ca­tion, strand­ing fam­i­lies in Greece for months af­ter they fled Syria’s civil war. Greece de­nies this.

“What we’ve man­aged to do on fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion is to have an in­crease of about 27% this year com­pared with last year, even though we’re ac­cused of cut­ting back fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion and do­ing deals to cut back fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion,” Mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Yan­nis Mouza­las told re­porters.

Mouza­las said Greece had as­sur­ances from Ger­many that refugees whose ap­pli­ca­tions have been ac­cepted will even­tu­ally go to Ger­many, even if there are delays.

He de­nied that refugees had to pay for their flights.

Ap­pli­ca­tions for asy­lum, re­uni­fi­ca­tion and re­lo­ca­tion to other Euro­pean coun­tries can take months to be pro­cessed.

About 60 000 refugees and mi­grants – mostly Syr­i­ans, Afghans and Iraqis – have been stranded in Greece af­ter bor­der clo­sures in the Balkans halted the on­wards jour­ney many planned to take to cen­tral and western Europe.

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