Despite Refugee, Migrant Hordes, Most Greeks Welcome Them

FILE - A migrant stands behind a fence at a refugee camp in the village of Diavata, west of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, Thursday, April 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

With Greece trying to deal with more than 70,000 refugees and migrants, most stuck in detention centers and camps up to two years and more while hoping for asylum, the majority of Greeks are sympathetic to their plight.

That was the finding of a survey of the Non-governmental organization More in Common, an international group with teams around the world, with their report showing that in Greece there is “substantial empathy for the recent newcomers,” who are seen as hard-working and well-intentioned, Kathimerini said.

“Fully 77 percent believe that migrants are willing to work harder and for lower pay than Greeks, and more than half (56 percent) believe that migrants make efforts to integrate into Greek society,” it said in its report.

It added that feelings towards migrants “are warmer than in other European countries where More in Common has undertaken national studies,” showing most Greeks famous hospitality toward strangers despite the burden of helping them.

There’s more than 15,000 on Greece’s Aegean islands near the coast of Turkey, which allows human traffickers to keep sending them despite an essentially suspended swap deal with the European Union which has seen only a relative handful returned.

The refugees and migrants head to Turkey, fleeing war and strife and economic woes in their countries, hoping to use it as a launching point to get to Greece and then on to more prosperous EU nations but those borders have been closed to them.

That leaves them no option but to ask for asylum, overwhelming Greek authorities and causing frequent tension and clashes in overcrowded detention centers and camps, including one on Lesbos the BBC called “the worst in the world.”

Officials and residents on the islands, despite their support, have been asking for the government to send more to mainstream camps and centers but only some minors and vulnerable groups were moved, with the government saying that otherwise it would violate terms of the EU-Turkey deal that isn’t working in some respects.

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