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Their Asylum Rejected, Greece Can’t Find 32,574 Refugees

November 15, 2020

ATHENS – Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said the New Democracy doesn't know where 32,574 refugees being held in detention centers and camps went after their applications for asylum were denied.

In a startling admission during a news conference with a second wave of COVID-19 spreading and Greece in a second lockdown, he didn't explain why they weren't tracked.

Greece is holding about 100,000 refugees and migrants, including some 34,000 on five islands near Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to keep sending them during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

He said that Turkey, since the pandemic began in March, has refused to take back those denied sanctuary as the deal required and has instead let human trafficker keep sending even more, although in smaller numbers.

“This is something we have pointed out many times in the European institutions because this is not a bilateral agreement but an EU agreement with Turkey,” he said, the bloc having closed its borders to refugees and migrants, dumping the problem largely on Greece.

He said it's possible, however, that many of those who didn't get asylum somehow crossed borders into other countries which have tried to keep them out, their hope of staying in Greece dashed.

Turkey is holding some 4.4 million refugees and migrants who went there fleeing war and strife in the Mideast, especially Syria and Afghanistan, as well as hoping for work and a better life after leaving economic hardships in places such as sub-Saharan Africa.

COVID-19 had also spread in the detention centers and camps, with a fire destroying the notorious Moria facility on the island of Lesbos, set by protesters angry over a quarantine aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus in there.

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