A new UN report says the number of refugees arriving in Europe is down 30-percent overall. It’s a different story in Greece; arrivals here are up nearly 50-percent compared to this time last year.
AMG International President Tasos Ioannidis just returned from Athens. “There seems to be a spike of the number of people who are coming from Turkey,” he says.
“[On] one day, there were more than 600 arrivals on the island of Lesbos.”
Ioannidis says Turkey’s President, Recep Erdogan, is behind the recent spike. “Mr. Erdogan has been sending more people towards Greece, towards Europe, because he is under pressure politically,” he says. More about Erdogan’s threats here.
“Erdogan is using them as leverage, asking for more funding to take care of refugees who are in Turkey.”
In 2019 alone, 30,755 refugees and migrants have arrived on Greek shores. Under Greek law, new arrivals must be “processed” and receive paperwork before they can find asylum in Europe. In 2018, the average processing time between pre-registration and a first instance decision was 8.6 months.
“Since this has been going for several years and has [strained] the resources of Greece, the Greek people are not as welcoming of refugees anymore,” Ioannidis explains. “Initially when this was taking place, [people] were a lot more welcoming.”
Refugee violence also creates tension. Living conditions in Turkey are better than what refugees experience in Greece, Ioannidis says. Frustration over long processing times and poor living conditions often leads to violence, which creates opposition between refugees and Greek residents.
Ioannidis calls it a “vicious cycle.” However, there is a silver lining.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth