Greece to expedite new reception centers for rising migrant numbers

Greece said yesterday it would speed up the creation of reception centres for up to 30,000 refugees to help cope with a sharp rise in numbers because of border closures in the Balkans that cut off the main migration route to wealthy western Europe.

Greece to expedite new reception centers for rising migrant numbers

Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece, straining resources of the recession-hit country that has borne the brunt of a massive influx into Europe of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East for more than a year.

“We will attempt to create reception facilities for 30,000 people over the next 20 days,” said George Kyritsis, a Greek government spokesman for the refugee crisis. Greece now has some 38,000 positions available in reception centres for refugees.

There were almost 50,000 refugees in Greece on Thursday, many living in squalid conditions near its border with Macedonia, waiting for the border to open. Kyritsis said it was a priority that migrants left the camp, close to Idomeni.

“The border [to Macedonia] is shut, and it’s futile for them to stay there.”

The EU and Turkey agreed to halt the flow of migrants last week in return for political and financial rewards for Ankara sealing off the route by which a million migrants poured across the Aegean to Greece in 2015.

* Reuters

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