Greece Says about 74,000 Asylum-Seekers Now in the Country

FILE - Migrants at the abandoned Hellenikon airport wait to register for asylum. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

ATHENS (AP) — Greek authorities say about 74,000 asylum-seekers are now living in the country, and efforts are underway to expand housing for them and improve conditions at island camps for migrants who arrive by sea.

Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas says in coming months some 6,000 people will be moved to the mainland from island camps, where conditions have repeatedly been criticized by rights groups.

Vitsas conceded that the situation is “difficult” in these camps, where 20,000 people live in facilities designed for fewer than 10,000.

This year, some 42,000 migrants have entered Greece illegally — 14,000 crossing the country’s land borders, mostly from Turkey. Vitsas said that he doesn’t expect an increase in flows next year.

He added that the number of migrants leaving Greece illegally for other European countries is minimal.