ATHENS – While accused of trying to keep out refugees from other countries – predominantly Muslim – Greece now has taken in 20,094 Ukrainians from a fellow Orthodox country Russia’s brutal invasion.
The Citizen Protection Ministry said that includes 5,754 are children who have arrived since Russian forces stormed in Ukraine on Feb. 24, left on its own by the rest of the world, including NATO – which had dangled membership prospects.
Police data showed that 236 refugees crossed the border into Greece in the last 24 hours into April 17, said Kathimerini, including another 55 minors, with 89 in total coming through the Procachonas border with Bulgaria.
The rest came through either Evzoni, at the country’s border with North Macedonia or other spots along the northern border while 35 flew into the international airport, 26 in Thessaloniki, and 10 at other airports.
But the southern Ukranian port of city of Mariupol remains under siege, almost two months into the invasion, where the are some 150,00 ethnic Greeks and the population kept from leaving, humanitarian missions blocked.
Greece is offering benefits and relocation and other advantages to the Ukrainians while scores of thousands of others are detained in camps on the mainland and five Aegean islands near Turkey.
Greece found itself sharply criticized by human rights groups and activists who said the New Democracy government is pushing back refugees and migrants who first went to Turkey and tried to reach Greek and its islands.
Fleeing war, strife and economic hardship, they are mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, as well as sub-Saharan Africa and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh, who sneaked into Greece after the European Union closed its borders.