More than 150 migrants who were rescued on the island of Gavdos were transported by ferry boat to Athens from Crete and were released in Athens centre last Monday, after being taken to a temporary shelter in Chania on Holy Saturday. They said that they would seek accommodation with other, more established members of their community.
The migrants, which hail from Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, include 40 unaccompanied minors. They landed in Gavdos, being told by the people traffickers that they were in Italy.
Six Egyptian nationals charged with smuggling the group onto Greek territory were led before a Chania prosecutor on Sunday.
They had a court hearing on Tuesday on charges of illegal transporting migrants into the country.
Greece is a major entry point for refugees from war-afflicted parts of the Middle East and Africa, and economic migrants seeking a better life in the European Union
On Wednesday the Greek government announced that they immigrants will be awarded refuge status and will be provided with travel documents as soon as possible in order to be able to travel to any European country they want.
“There is an increased flow of refugees. This is confirmed by the fact that at the same time there is an increased number of refugees in Italy too,” a Greek government spokesperson said, adding that “their motivation is not economic deprivation but the immediate risk of losing their life.
Number of people displaced by war is expected to increase
Greece has been lately receiving large inflows of war refugees which are expected to increase, according to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), government sources said on Monday adding that this is due to a number of factors related to the situation in the wider region.
The same sources said that although the country is an entry point for refugee flows, the infrastructure in place is non-existent since the former Samaras government did not implement anything and left EU funds untapped although it knew that there would be emergencies.
According to the sources, the new government has already started working on an emergency plan while some abandoned government and army buildings have started being used as refugee camps. They added that dealing with the refugee flows requires the activation of the European mechanisms, to which the Greek government has turned to, and there has been a request, through the UNHCR, for the relocation of refugees from Syria to other countries.
The sources stressed that other parties should also submit specific and realistic proposals and not make use of the issue for petty politics.