Immigrants’ interest in repatriations growing fast

Almost 2,000 migrants in Greece have applied for voluntary repatriation since the beginning of July, largely due to joblessness.

The Greek branch of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 15,481 people have taken advantage of the European Union-funded program since it started in 2010. Whereas applications mostly came from Africans and Asians, Eastern Europeans are also showing interest now.

Since the summer, 832 Pakistanis, 361 Bangladeshis and 142 Georgians have been among those who have chosen to return home. “The people who ask to leave Greece face huge problems,” said Daniel Esdras, the head of IOM in Greece. “Nine in 10 are homeless and have to look for food every day. They have realized they are in a tragic situation, a dead end.”

Esdras said interest in the program from migrants at reception centers has also risen. Last year, they only made up 5 percent of those seeking to leave. That figure has grown to 18 percent.

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