As hundreds of migrants continue to arrive on Greek islands from neighboring Turkey, it remains unclear exactly how many migrants and refugees are currently in the country as official government figures point to inexplicable oscillations in the population.
According to government figures released on Thursday, 7,800 people are in Greece but not in state reception facilities, with their whereabouts effectively unknown.
However, the government continues to include them in its overall calculation of migrants currently in Greece.
It appears that migrants started disappearing from state facilities over the past few weeks.
In the case of the Hersos and Polykastro camps in northern Greece, the former was hosting 3,730 and the latter 3,697 on August 8.
Just a few days later, on August 11, the number of migrants in the Hersos facility dropped to 3,290 and to 3,128 at Polykastro. On Thursday, there were 1,800 migrants in the Hersos camp and 1,975 at Polykastro.
Overall the number of migrants in Greece but not in state facilities has increased to 7,800 from 2,200 on August 8, according to government figures.
But it appears unclear whether government statistics accurately reflect the actual state of affairs.
Since August 8, a total of 3,660 migrants arrived in Greece from Turkey. As the number of migrants in Greece in early August was 57,047, the new arrivals should bring the total to 60,707. But official government figures put the total at 59,694.
On August 23, the government published the results of a process to “pre-register” all migrants in Greece.
Between June 6 and July 30, a total of 27,592 migrants were “pre-registered” in addition to 5,800 that had been pre-registered prior to that.
At the time, Alternate Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas admitted that between 4,000 and 6,000 migrants could not be accounted for but noted that this was to be expected of “a population that is on the move.”
The continuing influx of migrants from Turkey has put pressure on state facilities that are already overcrowded.
The government has pledged to remedy the situation by opening new centers on the mainland and freeing up space in crowded facilities on the islands.