Immigration minister says government preparing emergency measures

Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou on Tuesday said that Greece can expect up to 100,000 migrants to cross its borders in 2015, adding that the government is drafting emergency measures to brace for the influx.

Speaking on Mega television, Christodoulopoulou said the central government in Athens is working with regional and local authorities on Greece’s borders and particularly on its islands, which receive the majority of arrivals from the war-torn Middle East and North Africa, to improve reception conditions and asylum procedures for refugees.

Greece has received some 800 undocumented migrants since the start of the year, Christodoulopoulou said, adding that this number is small compared to the 5,500-plus that have tried to enter Italy, another key transit point.

“If inflows continue at the current rate, we can expect 100,000 arrivals this year,” she said, adding, however, that migrants tend to prefer Italy and Spain as an entry point, as “they help them continue their journey to their destination” in other parts of the European Union.

The alternate minister also added that there has to be a clear distinction between migrants and refugees, noting that defining the status of arrivals is key to unlocking further EU migration funds.

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