A group of 234 refugees boarded a charter flight from Athens to Lyon, France on Wednesday as part of the European Union’s relocation program, while dozens more migrants, deemed to belong to vulnerable groups, were transferred by ferry from the islands of the Aegean to mainland Greece.
The group relocated to Lyon comprised 132 adults and 102 minors, 190 of them Syrian nationals and the remainder from Iraq and the Palestinian territories.
In comments made at Athens International Airport, which he visited to see off the refugees, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said that a total of 22,000 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece to other European nations over the past year and a half, and that another 5,000 resettlements are pending.
The majority of those migrants have gone to France and Germany while Poland – though obliged to take in 100 people as part of the EU relocation program – has yet to take in even one refugee. Luxembourg meanwhile, despite its small size, has received 271 people as part of the program.
Mouzalas took a swipe at the countries which fail to honor their obligations to participate in the EU relocation program, claiming that some even refuse to take in unaccompanied minors.
Meanwhile, as arrivals of migrants on the Aegean islands increase, authorities have started transferring members of vulnerable groups – such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women and the elderly – to reception facilities on the mainland in a bid to ease pressure on overcrowded centers on the islands.
On Tuesday night a ferry brought 107 people to Piraeus from the islands and yesterday morning another 67 were moved to Kavala. Authorities plan to move 2,000 people to the mainland in the coming week, 1,000 of whom from Lesvos.