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Greece: Number of asylum seekers on Aegean Islands drops by 76%

A Syrian family waits to be accomodated in the new Samos RIC on new Samos RIC, the first of five new 'closed' migrant camps, on the island of Samos, on September 20, 2021 [LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images]
A Syrian family waits to be accomodated in the new Samos RIC on new Samos RIC, the first of five new 'closed' migrant camps, on the island of Samos, on September 20, 2021 [LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The number of asylum seekers residing on the Aegean Islands facilities fell by 76 per cent compared to October 2020, the Migration and Asylum Ministry of Greece said in a report on Tuesday.

A drop of 47 per cent was recorded also in the number of asylum seekers residing in other facilities across the country compared to last year, it said, Anadolu News Agency reports.

According to the report, Samos Island recorded the largest decrease by 92 per cent, followed by Chios with 91 per cent, Leros with 88 per cent, Lesvos with 65 per cent, and Kos with 54 per cent.

Arrival flows in the first 10 months of 2021 also reduced by 67 per cent on the islands and by 46 per cent in the rest of the mainland, compared to the same period last year, the report noted.

In the first 10 months of this year, around 9,794 migrants left for Europe and other countries through mechanisms of expulsion, return and relocation of third-country nationals, while 7,242 people arrived in Greece, with the balance of departures/arrivals remaining positive, read the ministry's report.

READ: German rescue ship lands migrants safely in Sicily

It was also recorded that in October 2020, a total of 71,247 asylum seekers resided in the entire facilities managed by the Ministry of Migration, while in October this year, the number was 37,951.

A decrease of 52 per cent was also recorded in the pending cases at the Asylum Services and the Appeals Authority, reaching a total of 41,951 cases, compared to 87,922 in October 2020.

Greece has been several times criticised for its illegal and brutal pushbacks of refugees from its borders and illegally detaining them before returning them to Turkey. Although evidence from such events has been documented, the Greek side denies them.

"Greece has a tough but fair policy on migration," Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told the UK breakfast television program "Good Morning Britain" on ITV, noting that the country has accepted more than 50,000 asylum applications in the last three years and that no one can accuse it of not respecting human rights.

"I have an obligation to protect our borders" and he called on Turkey to honour its own side the EU-Turkey Joint Statement of 2016.

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