In this photo taken on Monday, a Greek coast guard vessel rescues a dinghy with migrants who try to approach from the Turkish coast to the Greek island of Kos.
Alternate Immigration Policy Minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou responded Thursday to criticism over the government’s handling of an immigration crisis, noting that only limited help can be offered to migrants who are determined to continue their journeys beyond Greece.
“At the moment we can’t do anything at all,” she said. “These people have no legal status as long as they don’t make asylum claims,” she said, adding that there is no legislative framework foreseeing the support of migrants who “use Greece as a crossing.”
Her comments came a day after Athens City Hall rapped the government’s efforts to deal with an intensifying immigration crisis as “woefully inadequate.”
Of the waves of migrants reaching Greece from Turkey, most end up in Athens. On Thursday, 1,200 migrants arrived at Piraeus and around 1,900 more the day before. Those who cannot afford to stay in cheap hotels, end up sleeping in central squares.
Christodoulopoulou said the government was considering setting up an “open” facility in central Athens, not to host migrants but “a place where they can wash their clothes and have a bath.”
Financing remains a problem. A donation of 300,000 euros made by the International Red Cross was returned to the donor due to restrictions on banks. Ministry sources indicated that funding is to be released on August 10 but did not elaborate.