New migrant repatriation scheme

The second phase of a repatriation scheme aimed at returning more than 2,000 migrants to their homelands is due to get under way next month with citizens of war-ravaged countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan topping the priority list.

The program, heralded by the Citizens? Protection Ministry, has a budget of 5 million euros, 75 percent of which is to be covered by European Union subsidies.

Last year, more than 1,200 migrants participated in the first wave of the repatriation scheme, organized by the International Office for Migration (IOM), which is expected to undertake the second phase of the scheme too.

It is thought that most of the applicants had been unemployed for a long time and had been unable to raise the money needed to continue their journey to Western or Northern Europe.

The director of IOM?s Athens office, Daniel Esdras, told Kathimerini that the new program was ambitious, aiming to cover not just the travel costs of each migrant but also offering financial incentives for the migrants to return.

The first scheme had given each migrant 300 euros in cash. The second scheme, notwithstanding the repercussions of Greece?s debt crisis, aims to offer more funding to allow returning migrants to set up businesses, boost existing businesses and educate their children.

?Similar programs organized by branches of IOM in other countries have had a positive impact on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq,? Esdras said.