IOM Greece head says ‘not aware’ of migrants gathering at Turkey’s coast

IOM Greece head says ‘not aware’ of migrants gathering at Turkey’s coast

The head of the Greek chapter of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said the body has no information indicating that migrants have started gathering along the Turkish coastline opposite the islands of the eastern Aegean.

Speaking at a teleconference on Monday, Gianluca Rocco said that usually this time of the year when the weather improves IOM notices an increase in arrivals, but “we are not aware of any movement yet.”

He said the situation is “very dynamic” and it could change quickly.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis claimed on Monday that "some migrants" had gathered at Turkey's western coast, aiming to cross into Greece.

IOM Mission Chief for Greece also said that more than 2,000 asylum applicants on Greek islands belong to coronavirus-vulnerable groups and will be temporarily moved from hotspots.

Rocco explained that IOM plans to temporarily house these people in hotels and apartments on the islands and the mainland, as a prrcaution. The group includes everyone over 65 years of age, even those who have no health issues, he said.

For the same reason, last week the UN High Commission for Refugees issued an invitation for rentals of hotels and ships. The latter would dock at the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, and the contracts would cover 15 days with the option of extension to two months. The Migration Ministry had approved the plan and the European Union will fund it.

"Hoteliers are interested in housing migrants at this point to house migrants for a limited amount of time,” he explained, noting that the ongoing UN program to house refugees will continue.

In addition, he noted that Greek authorities and the IOM are trying to create facilities to house 5,000 asylum seekers within the next two months, including refurbishing older buildings and using prefabricated homes.

Furthermore,he said  the number of migrants who have been granted asylum under the program Helios, which helps integration, totals 7,753 beneficiaries of whom 1,294 are receiving a rent subsidy.

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