Refugee relocation plan set to launch in next 10 days

Refugee relocation plan set to launch in next 10 days

An EU plan to relocate refugees from Greece to non-border bloc members is expected to go into effect in the next 10 days, Kathimerini understands, as the UN refugee agency said that refugee and migrant arrivals in the Mediterranean country will soon hit the 400,000 mark.

Sources told the newspaper that the relocation process will start with 50 families that have already claimed asylum status. The resettlement of refugees currently in Italy, which is also struggling to cope, will start on Tuesday.

European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is expected to visit Greece for the official launch of the program.

Meanwhile, authorities were yesterday cleaning up Victoria Square in central Athens, which had in recent weeks become a makeshift camp with hundreds of mainly Afghan people sleeping in tents.

On Thursday about 800 migrants were moved to the Olympic Sports Hall in Galatsi and the old Athens airport at Elliniko. Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas inspected the Galatsi venue early Friday.

According to a UNHCR report released Friday, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea so far this year, more than 153,000 in September alone.

Speaking during a regular briefing in Geneva, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said that the number of people arriving on Greek shores had fallen this week due to bad weather, but that the flow will pick up again if the weather improved.

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