‘Greece il­le­gally de­ports 60,000 mi­grants a year’

The National - News - - NEWS - JACK DUT­TON

Greece re­port­edly il­le­gally de­ported nearly 60,000 mi­grants to Turkey be­tween 2018 and 2019 in the lat­est ex­am­ple of Euro­pean gov­ern­ments cav­ing in to pres­sure over the growth in the mi­grant pop­u­la­tion.

The re­port, pub­lished in Ger­man magazine Der Spiegel, cited Turk­ish In­te­rior Min­istry files that sug­gest Greece il­le­gally trans­ported 58,283 peo­ple to Turkey in the 12-month pe­riod lead­ing up to Novem­ber 1, 2019.

Most of the cases reg­is­tered were Pak­istani cit­i­zens (16,435), fol­lowed by Afghans, So­ma­lis, Bangladesh­is and Al­ge­ri­ans. There were also more than 4,500 Syr­i­ans, the re­port said.

The doc­u­ments, which have not been in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied, said that last month, Greece sent more than 6,500 mi­grants to Turkey alone.

Turkey has re­peat­edly ac­cused Greece of not prop­erly han­dling the asy­lum sta­tus of mi­grants, but Greek Prime Min­is­ter Kyr­i­akos Mit­soka­sis de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

The two coun­tries are among those in Europe that have taken the most mi­grants in re­cent years, as the num­bers of peo­ple trav­el­ling to es­cape con­flict zones in Africa, Asia and the Mid­dle East grow.

On Thurs­day, Cather­ine Woolard, the direc­tor of the Euro­pean Coun­cil on Refugees and Ex­iles said the mi­grant cri­sis in Greece is the di­rect re­sult of EU poli­cies that block the on­ward move­ment of asy­lum seek­ers to more pros­per­ous parts of Europe.

“The sit­u­a­tion in Greece is the di­rect re­sult of Euro­pean pol­icy and par­tic­u­larly the Greece-Turkey deal. So now the sit­u­a­tion will also be ex­ac­er­bated by the law in­tro­duced by Greece,” Ms Woolard said.

At the start of the month, Greece passed a law tight­en­ing its asy­lum pro­ce­dures.

The US-based Pew Re­search Cen­tre said be­tween 3.9 mil­lion and 4.8 mil­lion unau­tho­rised im­mi­grants lived in Europe in 2017, most of whom were re­cently ar­rived young men. Th­ese num­bers were slightly lower than the pre­vi­ous year. The study de­fined unau­tho­rised mi­grants as a for­eigner who had en­tered the coun­try il­le­gally, those whose res­i­dence per­mits had ex­pired, were un­der ex­pul­sion or­ders or asy­lum seek­ers with pend­ing de­ci­sions on their sta­tus, Pew said.

It said that the fig­ures ac­counted for less than 1 per cent of the con­ti­nent’s pop­u­la­tion of more than 500 mil­lion. The US re­searchers an­a­lysed data from across the con­ti­nent.

Pew said the num­ber of unau­tho­rised mi­grants in Europe peaked in 2016 at be­tween 4.1 and 5.3 mil­lion, with per­haps a mil­lion-plus liv­ing in Ger­many and the UK.

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