Over 10,000 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece to other European Union and associated states since the start of the EU relocation program, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is implementing the plan, said on Friday.
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 program during an official visit to Greece this week.
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 program. 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 program has also relocated 207 unaccompanied migrant children from Greece, with Finland accepting the largest number.
“The unique strength of the EU Relocation program 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.”