One in seven asylum seekers in the EU’s flagship scheme to relocate refugees throughout the bloc has either refused to be moved or “absconded”, according to figures provided by the Greek government.
Of the 1,324 people processed as part of the relocation scheme so far, 191 have dropped out or simply disappeared, say Greek officials.
As of last week, Bulgaria had agreed to accept 47 asylum seekers from Greece. But when they were told they were being sent there, 36 withdrew from the programme while another seven “absconded”, according to the Greek government. In the end, only four were moved.
The situation was similar in Romania, where 32 of the 67 asylum seekers destined to be sent there disappeared or quit the relocation programme. In the case of Estonia, eight out of 27 people absconded rather than be sent to the Baltic state.
Anastasia Mavrou, a social worker and volunteer at a tent camp near Athens, said it was common for officials to lose track of asylum seekers. “There’s a lot of mobility among the refugees,” she said. “They switch addresses and mobile phone numbers quite often so can’t be reached by the asylum agency.”
Greek and European officials face a backlog of 46,000 asylum seekers and migrants who are stuck on the country’s mainland. Macedonia shut its border with Greece earlier this spring, leaving tens of thousands stranded in worsening conditions within the country.
Although Greek officials had put forward 3,126 for relocation, other EU countries that signed off the deal had agreed to accept just 1,791 as of last week.
Despite the Greek government agreeing, in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to set up accommodation for 50,000 refugees by the end of 2015, Greece is still suffering from a shortfall in accommodation. At the moment, the country has shelter for barely 35,000 migrants on its mainland.
The refugees want to go to Germany and Sweden where the benefits are the highest. Even France had dropouts. Of 388 asylum seekers due to be sent to France, 24 absconded while two others dropped out.
Greek Refugee Relocation Scorecard
- Overall Target: 3,126 relocations
- Accepted: 1,791
- Backlog: 46,000
- Romania Dropouts: 32 of 76
- Bulgaria Dropouts: 43 of 47
- Greek Accommodation Needs: 50,000
- Greek Accommodations: 35,000
- Grade F
Mike “Mish” Shedlock