Syr­ian refugees in Greece go on hunger strike

The Gulf Today - - Middle East -

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

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

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

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

“What we’ve man­aged to do on fam­ily re­uni­ica­tion is to have an in­crease of about 27 per cent this year com­pared with last year, even though we’re ac­cused of cut­ting back fam­ily re­uni­ica­tion and do­ing deals to cut back fam­ily re­uni­ica­tion,” 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 lights.

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

“I have not seen my hus­band, my child, for more than one year and nine months,” said 32-year-old Syr­ian Dalal Rashou, who has ive chil­dren, one of whom is in Ger­many with her hus­band.

“I miss him and ev­ery day I am here in Greece I cry. I don’t want to stay here, I want to go to my hus­band” she said.

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

Some 25,000 refugees and mi­grants have crossed to Greece from Turkey this year - a frac­tion of the nearly 1 mil­lion ar­rivals in 2015 - but ar­rivals have picked up in re­cent months.

Mean­while, Slo­vak po­lice say they have de­tained 78 mi­grants from Iraq, Iran and Syria trav­el­ling through Slo­vakia to Ger­many in two trucks.

Spokes­woman Denisa Baloghova say the ofi­cers stopped the trucks, which had Turk­ish driv­ers, shortly af­ter mid­night on Tues­day in the western city of Zilina.

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