EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos speaking at the ‘Greece Forward’ conference.
As the living conditions of migrants at camps on the eastern Aegean islands continue deteriorate due to overcrowding and cold weather, residents at hot spots on Chios and Kos were clamoring for answers on Monday after a rumor spread that there are plans afoot for mass returns to Turkey.
However, citing the European Union, the Citizens’ Protection Ministry said on Monday that migrants will not be leaving the islands even if conditions do become more difficult in order to discourage further migrants from making the perilous sea journey from Turkey.
“It appears that this is actually working [to reduce flows] but it doesn’t comply with respect for human rights,” ministry sources said.
As well as wintry weather and cluttered living conditions, migrants at Souda camp on Chios have also been hit by power and water cuts.
According to the latest data from the European Statistical Agency (Eurostat), in the third quarter of 2016, a total of 358,310 refugees submitted asylum requests to EU countries. Of these, 25 percent (87,915) were from Syria, 17 percent (62,070) from Afghanistan, 10 percent (36,430) from Iraq and 27 percent from other countries. Greece has so far received 12,425 asylum requests.
Overall in the third quarter of 2016, the EU received 702 asylum applications for every 1 million residents – with Germany getting the lion’s share and Greece coming in second.
Meanwhile, the second “Greece Forward” conference on the refugee crisis took place in the Greek capital on Monday, co-organized by the Athens-based Network for Reform in Greece and Europe and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, based in Brussels.