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Society

Refugees, Migrants Refuse to Leave Hotels, Facilities in Greece

A scheme by the New Democracy government to move out of hotels and other facilities thousands of refugees to make room for others ran into a wall when many of them have refused to go.

They were supposed to depart so that others seeking asylum could have a place to live while those moved out were going to have to fend for themselves during a time when Greece's economy is floundering over the COVID-19 Coronavirus after-effect.

Under a new law reducing from six months to one the time when refugees must leave state-paid accommodations, about 9,000 refugees and migrants had to depart, said Kathimerini over the plan.

Of these, 4,000 are living in European Union-funded apartments and the rest in subsidized hotels or camps. Another 11,000 are slated to leave in the coming months.

Non-government organizations say the refugees living in apartments funded by the EU ESTIA scheme refuse to leave as they have nowhere else to go. The United Nations refugee agency, which runs ESTIA, has asked the Migration Ministry to provide them with a “safety net” to make the transition.

The transfers were to begin June 1 with the Migration Ministry not saying which places holding refugees and migrants, including some who've been granted asylum, will be affected first or how long it will take, said Kathimerini.

The ministry didn't say how many who secured asylum and how many had their applications rejected and therefore face deportation while those approved for asylum will be able to join job training programs and claim social benefits.

It wasn't clear whether the cash assistance provided to them will continue once they leave the facilities. The ministry has pledged that vulnerable migrants such as the elderly and unaccompanied minors will get priority treatment.

Greece's government the transfers are necessary to alleviate pressure on the more than 32,500 migrants living in squalid camps on islands, reported Euronews in a feature.

"It is normal that those who have been in Greece for longer can leave their place,"  Manos Logothetis, Secretary of the Greek asylum service. "There must be a limit and the refugees integrate and find a job,” he told the site.

Boris Cheshirkov, spokesman in Athens for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said, “Refugees will have to leave this form of assistance without effective access to Greek social services.”

He added that, “In theory, they are entitled to assistance but in reality for those who do not speak the language, navigating the Greek bureaucracy can be extremely difficult.”

Greece has some 100,000 refugees and migrants, including more than 34,000 on Greek islands that Turkey, holding about 5.5 million who fled war and strife in their their homelands, let human traffickers sending an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU.

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