In the first five months of 2021, the Greek government claims it has removed nearly twice as many migrants then have arrived illegally in the country.
The conservative Greek government continues to reduce the number of migrants living on the Aegean islands, with the number being reduced by 71 per cent compared to last year, while arrivals have also declined compared to previous years.
According to the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, 4,951 migrants were removed in the first five months of this year, some deported to third countries and others redistributed to other European Union member-states, newspaper Proto Thema reports.
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During the same period, Greece saw just 2,891 new migrant arrivals on the Agean islands and in the Evros region — Greece’s land border with Turkey — representing a reduction of 68 per cent compared to the same period in 2020, which saw 9,421 new arrivals.
“In the last 12 months, in Greece, more third-country citizens are leaving than they are coming, while in the first five months of 2021, the departures of third-country citizens are twice as many as arrivals.” Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis said.
In May 2020, 92,463 asylum seekers lived in homes and structures run by the Greek migration ministry, but those numbers have since declined to 53,705 asylum seekers in May of this year.
The new numbers come after the Greek government, led by the centre-right New Democracy party, declared in August 2019 that it would be looking to reduce migrant arrivals and enforce stricter controls.
Despite building a new border wall in the Evros region, as well as recently deploying sound cannons to deter migrants from attempting the crossing, thousands of migrants still live in migrant camps on the Greek Aegean islands.
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Lesbos, one of the islands closest to Greece, saw its migrant camp in Moria burn down in October, making up to 13,000 migrants homeless. Four Afghan nationals were found guilty of arson earlier this month and sentenced to ten years in prison in connection to the fire.
The Greek government has plans to build new migrant reception infrastructure on Lesbos and the island of Chios, but according to the newspaper I Kathimerini, the projects face significant delays due to an extension of the tender process to next month.
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