Greece records 80 percent drop in migrant arrivals in 2020

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The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Greece dropped 80 percent in 2020, according to an annual report by the Migration Ministry published on Tuesday.

The 25-page annual report was presented by Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis and includes data collected by all the agencies involved in the migration aspect. The fresh data shows that arrivals fell 87 percent in the Greek islands and 62 percent in Greece’s northeastern border region of Evros.

The country’s asylum service issued some 106,000 decisions last year, of which 33 percent concerned refugee status approvals. Even though undecided asylum cases were reduced by 43 percent in 2020, some 80,000 decisions are still pending, the minister said.

FILE – Migrants on a dinghy are approached by a Greek coast guard boat near the port of Thermi, as they crossed part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the island of Lesbos, Greece, March 1, 2020.

The ministry aims to clear its backlog by the end of 2021.

The number of refugees and migrants accommodated in various housing facilities throughout the country was reduced from 93,000 to 65,000 last year, after the government closed 57 hotels in 2020. Another three such hosting facilities have been closed so far this year, Mitarakis said.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday supported the voluntary return of 2,565 migrants from Greece to their countries in 2020. The largest number of migrants returned to Pakistan, followed by Georgia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Thirty percent of the migrants were men aged between 22 and 29.

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