42 additional refugees arrived in the German city of Hanover from Greece on Wednesday, February 3. The group is part of a contingent of 1,553 vulnerable persons that Germany agreed to take from Greece after the fire in the Lesbos migrant camp Moria last September.
The flight carrying 42 refugees from Greece to Germany is the first arrival this year, confirmed the German interior ministry. The group includes children with medical needs and their families as well as people whose refugee status has already been recognized.
According to Germany’s Zeit Online newspaper, the group was made up of 23 adults and 19 children and youths. There were ten family groups on the flight.
The UN migration agency IOM Germany tweeted a picture of two of the children from the flight at the airport. The text celebrated the arrival of the 42 saying they had worked closely with IOM Greece. It went on to "thank the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI Bund) for their support and help to people in need."
The group of refugees landed on Wednesday (February 3) in Langenhagen airport in Hannover, in the state of Lower Saxony. The interior ministry for that state told the media that the group would be taken to accommodation in the town of Friedland, near the city of Göttingen, before being distributed across several different German states.
Distributed across Germany
Zeit Online reported that Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia will take 13 people from the group, Berlin and Lower Saxony will take nine each, Bavaria will take six people and the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, on the Danish border, will take five.
Before they boarded the flight, all passengers had to submit a negative coronatest.
In spring 2020, Germany began accepting small contingents of unaccompanied minors and children with medical needs in order to ease the pressure on the overcrowded migrant camps on the Greek islands. It was understood that they would continue their asylum process then in Germany.
After a fire burnt most of the most crowded camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos in September 2020, Germany said it would take a further 1,553 vulnerable people in need of protection. Those people have already been recognized as refugees or have acquired some sort of special protection status.
More than 18,000 remain on the islands
Some NGOs and groups who work with migrants and asylum seekers in Germany have criticized the German government for not taking more people from Lesbos and the other islands. Germany is a federal state, which means that each region within the country has certain powers to decide some policies, but the Federal Government has retained the power of decision about how many refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are allowed into the country over all.
According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR’s latest figures, there are presently some 18,100 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants on the Aegean islands in Greece. About 77% of those or 14,000 of those are staying in permanent or temporary reception and identification centers.
The majority of the islands' migrant population comes from Afghanistan (48%), Syria (17%) and Somalia (8%). About 21% of them are women and 27% of them are children. About 6% of those children are unaccompanied or separated and they come mainly from Afghanistan.
Just 23 new migrants arrived on Lesbos in the week ending January 31 and 22 migrants arrived on the island of Kos. One person arrived on the island of Chios.
With epd, dpa, KNA and Zeit Online