NEWS

Ministry issuing travel papers for refugees

TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

TAGS: Migration

The Migration Ministry has opened an office offering travel documents to refugees to help them go to other European Union countries, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Tuesday, following the departure of hundreds of migrants from state facilities, many of whom have been camping out in city squares.

“We issue about 200 to 250 travel documents a day,” Mitarakis told Mega television channel, adding that recognized refugees have the right to travel to other EU member-states. However, although the refugees have the right to stay in another EU country for up to three months, they only have a legal right to work in Greece.

The ministry’s plan foresees the departure of at least 11,000 refugees from state reception facilities and subsidized hotels by the end of the year. Although the scheme has been condemned by rights groups, the government insists that it has done its duty to refugees and that space must be made for new asylum seekers.

The ministry said that refugees leaving state facilities have the right to apply to the Helios program, which is run by the International Organization for Migration, for subsidized rent and help with job-seeking.

A police operation on Monday evening moved dozens of refugees from the capital’s Victoria Square to facilities in Elaionas and Amygdaleza. Dozens more arrived at the square on Tuesday, much to the chagrin of local residents who are urging authorities to address the situation so that the area does not become a makeshift settlement as has happened several times in recent years.

According to the ministry, only 57 of around 200 refugees who have camped at Victoria Square over the past couple of days have a problem with accommodation.

Leftist groups, however, are pressing authorities to provide an immediate solution for refugees camping at city squares, by opening up closed hotels and public buildings for instance.

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