Close to 300 refugees and migrants were flown to Germany from Greece this week -- around half of them minors. These two latest flights bring the total number of vulnerable people Germany has taken in from the Greek Aegean Islands since April 2020 to nearly 2,000.
This week saw more recognized refugees and migrants from the Greek Aegean Islands arriving in Germany. On Wednesday (February 24) and Thursday, two flights with 122 and 155 people, respectively, touched down in the northern German city of Hanover.
While the group that landed on Wednesday consisted of 25 families with 53 adults and 69 minors, the one from Thursday was made up of 33 families with 70 adults and 85 minors, the German Interior Ministry said.
The two flights bring the number of people Germany has taken in since April 2020 to 1,954, according to the Interior Ministry. The refugees and migrants from the two flights will be distributed to 13 German states, including Berlin, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, the ministry said in two press releases on its website.
The latest 177 people to land in the German city of Hanover are part of an agreed contingent of 1,553 recognized refugees whose admission the German government had pledged after a fire destroyed the Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last September.
More migrants arriving
Back in March 2020, Germany had already said it would provide a passage to Germany for 244 ill children and their families as well as 53 unaccompanied minors. Most of these people have arrived in Germany by now, according to the Interior Ministry.
In addition, the German government had said it was willing to take in 150 unaccompanied minors after the fire that destroyed Moria.
Just last week, 116 refugees who had been living in Greek camps were flown to Hanover. The group was composed of 53 adults and 63 children. News agency dpa reported that all refugees must provide a negative COVID-19 test.
Situation on the Greek Aegean Islands
Following a devastating fire at the Moria camp, which displaced more than 12,000 people who were staying in and around Europe's then-largest migrant camp, Greece erected the Kara Tepe tent camp nearby.
Many refugees and asylum seekers were transferred to the Greek mainland and some to other EU countries like Germany. But thousands remained on Lesbos and were moved to Kara Tepe.
UN agencies, human rights organizations and migrant aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have repeatedly condemned the conditions at the tent cities on the Greek islands, such as Kara Tepe on Lesbos, which many refer to as Moria 2.0.
Greece pledges improvements
In December, Greece announced that a new, permanent "up-to-standard reception center" on Lesbos will replace Kara Tepe by September 2021. The European Commission said it will support the Greek government with the building project.
According to the latest UNHCR data, some 16,600 refugees and asylum seekers currently reside on the Greek Aegean Islands -- a number that is down from close to 20,000 in December 2020.
The majority of the people on the islands are Afghan (48%), Syrian (17%) and Somalian (8%).