A group of mostly Syrian women and children started protesting in front of the Greek parliament in Athens due to delays in reuniting with relatives in Germany. Some of the migrants are also said to have started hunger strikes after it was reported that Athens and Berlin had agreed to slow down the process of reunification between EU countries.
“What we’ve managed to do on family reunification is to have an increase of about 27% this year compared with last year, even though we’re accused of cutting back family reunification and doing deals to cut back family reunification,” Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas commented. He also added that Greece got assurances from Germany that refugees whose applications have been accepted will eventually get to Germany despite the potential delays in processing asylum applications for reunifications and relocation to other European countries.
Greece has seen about 60,000 refugees and migrants, mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, after the borders had been closed in the Balkans, halting their journey to Germany and western Europe. Almost 150,000 refugees and migrants have reached Greece from Turkey this year, a tiny fraction from the almost 1 million arrivals in 2015. An average of 214 people arrived every day in September, an increase from 156 in August and 56 in March.
The rise in the number of arrivals has stretched Greek island camps, which are having a hard time to absorb the flow with numbers two to three times their capacity. Mr. Mouzalas said that the Greek government was discussing with local authorities the option of moving refugees and migrants to local accommodation, including hotels, and it also considered increasing the capacity of some facilities.