Is the refugee crisis going to disappear? Is the Council Presidency playing a cynical numbers game with the figures - or are we going to see mass returns?
There are currently 62,184 refugees in Greece. The Council says that: 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but are 13,758 refugees on the Greek Islands, 28,426 on the mainland and those still arriving going to be subject to mass returns?
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On 12 April 2017 a Council Presidency Note to national delegations on the Implementation of Relocation Commitments appeared to suggest that following the success of the fast-track identification, fingerprinting, registration and exclusion from relocations based on crude discrimination by nationality enacted in hotspots, the commitment to relocate 160,000 people from Italy and Greece will be considerably scaled back. The hotspot approach and relocation scheme has been running for over a year and a half since September 2015 but only 18,865 people had been relocated by 17 May 2017, 5.758 of them from Italy and 13,107 from Greece. This Note is clearly intended to distract attention from the fact that relocation plans, set out in September 2015 have failed.
See: Note from the Presidency to Delegations on the Implementation of Relocation Commitments, Brussels (12.4.2017, 8168/17 LIMITE document).
The note says there are currently around 20,000 asylum applicants eligible for relocation in Greece and argues that these can be completely dealt with by the autumn.
It assumption is based on:
"the number of persons eligible for relocation, i.e. applicants for international protection originating from third countries whose applicants typically have a high asylum recognition rate."
The assumption of 20,000 eligible for relocation from Greece has to be squared with the total number of refugees in Greece: 62,184 - leaving 42,184 unaccounted for. In theory all refugees who arrived in Greece after 18 March 2016 are supposed to have been held on the Islands pending return to Turkey - the Islands total was13,758 on 19 May.
There are currently 62,184 refugees in Greece The Council says that:
- 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but there are
- 13,758 refugees on the Greek Islands, 28,426 on the mainland and people still arriving. Are they going to be subject to mass returns.
The official figures for the number of "returns" to Turkey from Greece this year is so far 293. And overall "voluntary" returns this year have been only 2,045.
Updated: Greek MInistry (26-6-17, pdf)
For the record: Arrivals in the Mediterrean
2015: 1,015,078 (862,137 in Greece) (*)
2016: 387,739 (181,436 in Italy, 176,906 in Greece. 5,082 dead/missing).
(*) The 2015 figures are almost certainly an underestimate as the hotspots were not in place in Italy and Greece until the spring of 2106 and most people relocated themselves.
Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
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