Greece opens migration ministry to curb irregular migration

In response to the rising number of migrant arrivals from neighbouring Turkey, the Greek government is setting up a Ministry for Migration and Asylum, according to an announcement made on 15 January. Previously, migration issues were handled by a department of the country’s Civil Protection Ministry.

The newly-appointed Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said that reducing the number of arrivals of migrants from Turkish coasts, which hit its peak in recent months, is now the government’s main priority.

“The rapid implementation of our policy is necessary in order for the citizens to see that something is being done,” he told state-run radio station Praktoreio FM.

“Our political direction is specific, our target is to restrict [migration] flows and this demands the strengthening of border protection and efficiency in the management of asylum using the new legislation in effect since January 1, 2020.” he said.

He also warns traffickers that “the road to Greece is a dead end” for those not entitled to international protection.

“The government, from the first moment, followed a different policy on the refugee-migration issue. With a comprehensive plan based on four axes: guarding the borders, speeding up asylum procedures, increased returns and closed pre-departure centers,” announced Stelios Petsas, the government spokesperson. 

“What is needed is a faster implementation of this plan,” he added.

According to the reports, extremely crowded camps on Greek islands host over 35,000 people although they only have capacity for around 5,000. Due to the dire conditions at these island camps, the Greek government is in the process of relocating migrants to the mainland. 

TMP – 24/01/2020

Photo credit: Victor Lauer

Photo caption: Greece flag on brick wall with closed door and Closed sign