IOM Welcomes Milestone as 10,000 Asylum Seekers Relocated from Greece under EU Plan

Posted: 
03/17/17
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies, Missing Migrants, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Greece - Over 10,000 asylum seekers have now been relocated from Greece to other European Union (EU) and Associated States since the start of the EU relocation programme according to IOM, which is implementing the scheme.

Since the beginning of March, 367 people left Greece for Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain bringing the total number of people relocated from Greece to 10,004.  Another 475 people were relocated from Italy to Belgium, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Slovenia in the same period. This brings the total number of people relocated from both Italy and Greece to 14,439 since the scheme’s launch in October 2015.

IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson welcomed the new milestone and highlighted the benefits of the programme during an official visit to Greece this week.

“The unique strength of the EU Relocation programme lies in its double impact both at the political level and for individuals,” said Ambassador Thompson. “Not only does relocation demonstrate cooperation, solidarity and a genuine Union, it has also made a big difference for each of the nearly 14,500 people that have relocated from Greece and Italy to start new lives in other EU member states.”  

“IOM continues to work with the EU, Greece and Italy as well as the countries receiving these men, women, children and families to help realize the full potential of this programme,” she added.

Eugenio Ambrosi, Director of IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway and Switzerland, said that the 10,000 milestone, while short of the initial target, clearly shows more commitment from EU member states and determination to accelerate the process for those in need of international protection. 

“We have seen a steady increase of pledges and acceptance from participating EU countries in the past few months. At this rate, there will be a further 15,000 to 18,000 relocations from Greece by the end of the programme,” said Ambrosi.

“Yet we cannot rest at ease because the overall numbers are too low given the needs in Greece and the commitments that were made. We continue to encourage EU member states to follow through fully on their commitments,” he added. 

A record number of people were relocated from Italy and Greece in February 2017, with more than 1,200 relocations to 13 different EU countries. According to current statistics, this month is on track to break February’s record number of relocations.   

Germany (3,093), France (2,764) and the Netherlands (1,486) have received the most asylum seekers to date under the scheme, mainly from Greece, while the European Commission has lauded Finland and Malta for being on track to meet their respective target numbers. 

As of 28 February 2017, Syrians comprised most Italy and Greece relocation beneficiaries (58 percent), followed by Eritreans (29 percent), Iraqis (10 percent) and other nationalities (3 percent). Women accounted for 38 percent of those relocated; 33 percent of the beneficiaries were under the age of 18.

There has been a notable upward trend in relocations from Greece where more than half of the overall progress to date has been achieved just in the last five months of the programme. More than one third of the 10,000 beneficiaries that traveled under relocation from Greece to date have done so in the last 100 days.

Relocation beneficiaries to date from Greece were mainly Syrian (81 percent) and Iraqi (14 percent). The programme has also relocated 207 unaccompanied migrant children from Greece, with Finland accepting the largest number.  

The programme is being implemented by IOM in close cooperation with Greek and Italian authorities and other agencies, with the continuing support of the European Commission, EU member and associated states, and other partners.

To help the migrants integrate in their new communities, IOM runs pre-departure orientation sessions, which provide useful information on rights and obligations, as well as on initial post-arrival reception and early integration assistance.

Vulnerable beneficiaries, including unaccompanied migrant children, pregnant women, newborns and migrants with medical needs are given additional support and care through specialized services, including best interest assessments for minors. Where necessary, IOM also provides medical escorts, as well as escorts for unaccompanied minors or large groups, to assist them during their travel.

Interpreters and cultural mediators are in contact with beneficiaries throughout the relocation process to ensure that they understand the procedures and can communicate any concerns or questions. IOM staff are also present at airports of departure to provide assistance during boarding and reception assistance at transit airports and final destinations.

IOM has so far assisted over 400 group relocation movements to 24 European countries participating in the programme.

For updated statistics on EU relocations, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe

More information on IOM and the EU Relocation Programme can be found at: http://eea.iom.int/index.php/what-we-do/eu-relocation

Portraits of EU Relocation: https://greece.iom.int/en/photos-and-videos and https://greece.iom.int/en/migrants-stories

For further information, please contact the IOM Regional Office in Brussels: Jo De Backer Tel: +32 2 287 71 15, Email: jdebacker@iom.int or Ryan Schroeder Tel: +32 2 287 71 16, Email: rschroeder@iom.int. Or Besim Ajeti at IOM Athens, Tel: +30 210 9919040 Ext. 121, Email: bajeti@iom.int. Or Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Rome, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int

Suleiman, Roula, Moulham, Kinana and baby Mohammad.  Roula (left, back row) a hairdresser, relocated with her family from Greece to Portugal in February 2017. Photo: IOM 2017
Suleiman, Roula, Moulham, Kinana and baby Mohammad. Roula (left, back row) a hairdresser, relocated with her family from Greece to Portugal in February 2017. Photo: IOM 2017