In 2015, Greece became a major transit country for migrants headed to central Europe
In 2015, Greece became a major transit country for migrants headed to central Europe

Many of those leaving Greece with the support of the IOM are returning to Albania, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The returnees faced little or no chances of being granted asylum.

About 2,300 migrants have left Greece to return to their homeland since the beginning of 2018, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This is at a lower rate as compared to 2017. In total, 20,255 returned to their home countries over the course of the year, according to the IOM.

Most of the current returnees originally hailed from Albania, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and north African nations. They returned after determining they had very little hope of being granted asylum in the European Union and risked legal problems if they stayed.

The IOM gives returning migrants and asylum seekers a return trip to their country of origin and between 500 and 1,500 euros to restart their lives.

Thousands still remain stranded on islands

Meanwhile, human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said more than 13,000 migrants and refugees were still "trapped" on the Greek Aegean islands in "deplorable conditions." Greece implemented a "containment policy" in 2016 to prevent migrants and refugees from reaching mainland Greece. 

Gabriel Sakellaridis, director of Amnesty International in Greece, told HRW "the containment policy has turned the Greek islands, once a symbol of hope and solidarity, into open prisons that put the lives of refugees on hold for months on end, causing them additional suffering."

Greece became one of the main arrival points for migrants and refugees attempting to enter central Europe in 2015. Around one million people are estimated to have transited the country since then. After the Balkan route was closed and the EU-Turkey deal was implemented in March 2016, the influx of new arrivals declined substantially.


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