Greece Ending Temporary Hotel Shelter Program for Refugees

Αssociated Press

FILE- Migrants gather on their balconies at a hotel in Kranidi town about 170 kilometers (106 miles) southwest of Athens, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - The so-called Filoxenia program under which Greece has temporarily put up refugees in hotels the state leased will now end, except for asylum seekers on islands.

It will be extended two months for them until they join the Helios program, which promotes the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in Greece, said Kathimerini.

The others now will be swiftly moved out, in the winter, to other structures and centers around the country, Greece holding some 100,000 in camps, including some 34,000 on five islands near Turkey.

The Migration Ministry said Jan. 8  the lease agreement with hotels across the country will be terminated within the next few days, ending arrangements with 79 hotels holding 6,989 people.

They hosted vulnerable groups from the reception and identification centers of the islands, including families with children.

Today, only 130 asylum seekers are staying at three hotels. They will be transferred within January to existing accommodation structures, the report also added after human rights groups had complained about programs to house those seeking asylum.

The refugees and migrants were sent to Greece, mostly to the islands, from Turkey, where they had gone fleeing war, strife and economic hardships in their countries, especially Syria and Afghanistan.

Violating an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union with no consequences, Turkey let human traffickers keep sending, although in small numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.