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UK-bound migrants stranded in Greece

The coronavirus lockdown has left a group of 50 refugees and asylum seekers flying to Britain stranded in Greece. This unfortunate delay in the transfer has meant the reunification of migrants with their relatives in the UK has been put on hold.

Refugees and migrants could be seen boarding their flight at the Athens International Airport, Greece, earlier today.

Image credit Alkis Konstantinidis, Reuters

According to Greek migration ministry officials, and adding pressure to an already tense situation, are 16 unaccompanied minors within the stranded group.

It is thanks to the Dublin Treaty, which contains procedures to protect asylum seekers whilst their applications are being examined, that today’s group of migrants were able to start the relocation process and reunite with their loved ones.

Some of the 130 Greek nationals that are currently stranded in the UK because of the Covid-19 lockdown will be repatriated on the return flight, according to the Greek migration ministry.

Greece also hopes to steadily relocate around 1,600 vulnerable individuals from its refugee camps to other countries in the coming months. This process should improve as lockdown restrictions ease across the world.

In Greece, restrictions were partly eased on May 4.

The coronavirus lockdown arrives at a time of already high pressure between Greece and neighbouring countries to relocate the large numbers of refugees that continue to arrive in Greece.

According to data from The Refugees Operational Portal, a total arrival of 9,629 refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East/Western Asia have entered Greece via the sea and by land (updated May 3, 2020).

On a more positive note, Beth Gardiner-Smith, the CEO of refugee charity Safe Passage International, said in a recent news release: “The British and Greek governments have shown real leadership in reuniting these families despite the travel difficulties”.


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