ATHENS -- One hundred and one recognised refugees living in the islands of the Eastern Aegean left for Germany on Friday, on a flight from "Eleftherios Venizelos" airport in Athens.
Their transfer is part of the agreement between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the relocation of a total of 1,553 recognised refugees following the fire in the reception and identification centre of Moria, Mytilene.
The departure of the refugees was attended by Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi, Deputy Migration and Asylum Minister George Koumoutsakos and a representative of the German Embassy.
"The fires in Moria showed the need for the member states of the European Union to work together to deal with a humanitarian crisis that has affected Europe," Mitarachi told reporters. He explained that "the fact that 1,553 recognised refugees are being transferred to Germany in the coming weeks is a practical demonstration of this solidarity," while thanking the German government, "which was the first to show the way to a balanced European solution."
"Europe, in the new Migration and Asylum Pact, must offer solidarity as a basis for the coming years," he said.
Koumoutsakos reminded that "every such flight requires a lot of work and cooperation with the host countries. This has been achieved all this time, despite the difficulties of the pandemic. The cooperation within the ministry, internationally and with all the services and the international organisations brings results." He also thanked Germany "for the excellent cooperation we have" and the international organisations involved in this effort.
According to sources, out of the 101 recognised refugees who travelled on Friday, 61 are children, of which 14 infants up to two years old. Most refugees come from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Kuwait, Eritrea and Djibouti. During the preparation of the trip and in order to undergo the necessary medical examinations, the refugees were accommodated in temporary mainland accommodation structures, which are managed by the International Organisation for Migration.
The international organisation also undertook the medical examinations and the issuance of all the necessary travel documents in cooperation with the Asylum Service. IOM staff will accompany the refugees on the flight until their arrival at Hanover airport.
Meanwhile, another flight carrying recognised refugees to Germany is scheduled for the end of October.