Thousands of migrants have left Greece and returned to their home countries within the framework of an assisted voluntary return and reintegration program operated by the International Organization for Migration, the agency said Monday.
According to the IOM, 2,026 migrants were repatriated in October, bringing the total number of returns so far this year to 15,954.
The majority of those who returned to their homelands were Albanians (1,153), followed by Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Georgians, Algerians, Iranians and Moroccans.
Meanwhile, Greek authorities said Monday the number of refugees and migrants stranded on the country’s eastern Aegean islands rose above 15,000 over the weekend.
Government figures showed 6,147 individuals were staying at migrant facilities on Lesvos, awaiting either the outcome of their asylum claims or deportation. A total 4,210 were on Chios, 2,707 on Samos, 2,016 on Kos and 826 on Leros.
In a reshuffle on Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made the Migration Ministry autonomous, removing it from the umbrella of the Interior Ministry, in recognition of the additional attention required for tackling the refugee crisis.
Yiannis Mouzalas kept his post as migration minister.
Meanwhile, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday that it was "outrageous" and "not acceptable for refugees in Greece and Italy to refuse to take the plane for destinations other than Germany."
Juncker said some EU governments were willing to accept refugees from overwhelmed Greece and Italy, "but there are very few refugees who agree to be relocated."