EU offers migrants on Greek Islands EUR 2,000 to go home

The European Union will give EUR 2,000 (USD 2,225) to migrants in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands if they agree to go back to their home countries under a temporary voluntary return scheme.

The measure was announced by EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in Athens on 12 March after a meeting with the Greek government to discuss the current situation in the camps.

The financial aid plan will be on offer for one month and will be available to migrants who reached the camps before January 2020. The money is intended “to help people to reintegrate in their country of origin,” Ylva Johansson said. 

That means those migrants who arrived in Greece after Turkey opened its borders with the EU on 28 February will not be eligible.

“This is an opportunity to actually release a bit of pressure on the islands and for the other people who are still in the camps. We think it will be an open opportunity for 5,000 migrants for voluntarily returns,” she added.

IOM, with the help of Frontex, the EU’s border and coast guard agency and the Greek Government, will carry out the plan, but it will not be launched immediately. It could take up to three weeks for the scheme to commence.

The migration crisis has urged the EU to take some urgent steps. For example, seven EU member countries recently announced a plan to take in at least 1,600 unaccompanied migrant children living in Greece.

So far, the five Greek migrants camps on the Aegean islands host over 41,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, according to the latest Greek government figures.

Those migrants, including men, women and children “are living in horrific conditions in these overcrowded centres, in constant fear and with very basic access to services like toilets, showers, electricity,” Stephan Oberreit, MSF head of mission in Greece, told the BBC.


TMP _ 18/3/2020

Photo credit: Giannis Papanikos

Photo caption: Idomeni, Greece – January 15, 2016. Refugees wait in a queue in order to cross the Greek Macedonian border.