Greece - IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson will tomorrow begin a two-day official visit to Greece’s northern border region of Evros, which has recently witnessed a marked increase in the number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey.
During her visit, she will meet Greece’s Minister of Public Order and Citizens’ Protection Nikolaos Dendias to discuss IOM’s support for the voluntary return, rights and protection needs of undocumented migrants, many of whom end up in detention centres.
IOM and the Government of Greece recently signed a EUR 10 million, 12-month agreement to offer assisted voluntary return to some 7,000 irregular migrants currently stranded in Greece.
The project, which will be funded 75 per cent by the European Return Fund and 25 per cent by the Greek Ministry of Public Order and Citizens’ Protection, also provides reintegration packages to some 300 particularly vulnerable returnees.
According to Eurostat, there are currently close to one million irregular migrants in Greece, which is part of the European Union’s external border and whose geographic location makes it a prime target for irregular migration.
The largest number of irregular migrants in Greece come from Afghanistan, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco and Iraq. Most want to continue their journey on to other European countries, but run out of money and end up homeless and unemployed on the streets of Greek cities.
The IOM project, which is the third of its kind implemented by IOM Athens, in close collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Public Order and Citizens’ Protection, offers the migrants an opportunity to return home in a safe and dignified manner.
To date, IOM Athens has already assisted over 5,000 irregular migrants to return home and has registered another 8,000 who want to be repatriated to their respective countries.
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