The British Embassy in Athens on Wednesday announced a program for helping local authorities repatriate some 1,500 irregular migrants over the course of the next year.
The UK government has pledged 2 million pounds (2.43 million euros) for the scheme, which will be run jointly with the Greek Ministry of Public Order and the International Migration Organization (IMO).
“Our assessment is that the UK remains a primary final destination country for many of the irregular migrants in Greece,” British Ambassador John Kittmer was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
“British funding for this program is ultimately about reducing illegal migration to the UK. That is why we are co-operating with the Greek government as it faces the continuing challenge of illegal migration,” he added.
The program aims at helping repatriate some 1,500 irregular migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East over the course of 12 months.
Speaking at the presentation of the program in Athens, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias praised the initiative, saying “the British Home Office and the Foreign & Common Wealth Office have once more demonstrated the UK government’s ongoing commitment to support the Greek government’s efforts to manage migration more effectively and at the same time to provide migrants with safe and dignified alternatives for their return home.”
It is estimated that some 18,500 migrants have left Greece voluntarily since the start of the crisis.