AP

Greek minister says migrant arrival numbers sharply down

Jan 16, 2023, 5:40 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2023, 9:19 am

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s migration minister says the number of migrants arriving in Greece has dropped dramatically over the past two years, while the number of asylum-seekers living in the country has also fallen.

Speaking Tuesday at an event marking the third anniversary of the Migration and Asylum Ministry’s foundation, minister Notis Mitarachi credited the center-right government’s policies on migration for the drop, including increased border security, faster asylum procedures and a tightening of migration laws.

Greece saw the lowest number of arrivals in a decade in 2021, Mitarachi said, putting the figure at under 9,000 people. In 2015 at the height of the migration crisis, hundreds of thousands reached Greece, the vast majority making their way to Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast and then heading north through the Balkans to wealthier European countries.

“After the explosion in the period 2015-2019, in 2021 we had the lowest flows of the decade, 8,745, and steadily low in 2022 too” Mitarachi said. “The result is that instead of 92,000 asylum seekers living in 121 facilities, we have today 14,000 in 33 facilities.”

The U.N.’s refugee agency had slightly different figures, listing a total of 9,157 arrivals in Greece in 2021 – 4,331 by sea and 4,826 by land. For 2022, the UNCHR office’s figures show a total of 18,778 new arrivals in Greece: 12,756 by sea and 6,022 by land.

In 2015, Mitarachi said, arrivals in Greece accounted for 75% of the total number of irregular arrivals in the European Union, while in 2022 that figure stood at just 5%. He added that Greece was also amending legislation to attract workers through legal migration for employment.

“The migration issue doesn’t end. And it is at the same time a challenge and a need. Our country is implementing a strict but fair migration policy,” he said. “With an emphasis on migration with rules, criteria, agreements, in accordance with our needs. But we stand firmly against smuggling rings and illegal migration.”

Greece has been widely accused by migrants and rights groups of carrying out summary deportations of people as soon as they reach Greek soil without allowing them to apply for asylum — an illegal practice known as pushbacks. Despite considerable indications of the practice both on islands and at Greece’s land border with Turkey, Greek officials strenuously deny it occurs.

___

Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

9 hours ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

2 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

2 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

3 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

3 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

4 days ago

Greek minister says migrant arrival numbers sharply down