‘Greece illegally deports 60,000 migrants a year’
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.