(ANSAmed) – ATHENS, 08 GIU – Greece made a historic announcement on Monday by designating Turkey as a “safe country” for asylum seekers for the first time.
The announcement refers to refugees and migrants seeking asylum from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia, according to a press release issued by both the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Migration and Asylum.
The decision is based on a recent recommendation from the Greek Asylum Service and all the latest information regarding the living conditions and human rights enjoyed by these particular groups of asylum seekers. It has been established that these groups are not at risk because of their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or social status.
Greek Immigration Minister Notis Mitarakis said of the development: “Designating Turkey as a safe third country is an important step in the fight against illegal immigration flows and the criminal activity of passers”. He continued: “As a product of cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, this joint ministerial decision is fully in line with international law and protects Greece’s legal arsenal. against the demands of citizens of countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Pakistan, Somalia who, objectively speaking, have no reason not to consider Turkey as an unsafe country. Mitarakis concluded: “However, it is above all another step towards the full and unwavering implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement, which obliges our neighboring country not to allow the operation of smuggling and transit routes in Greece”. Meanwhile, in related developments, Mitarakis also said that Greece’s vaccination program for refugees and migrants on the country’s islands, dubbed “Blue Freedom”, was “moving smoothly”.
Mitarakis and the head of Greece’s national health service, EODY, Panagiotis Arkoumaneas, visited the hospital in Chios, in the northeastern Aegean Sea, on Friday to check on the progress made and thank the professionals of the health for their continued efforts.
Mitarakis said: “It is very important that ‘Blue Freedom’ evolves smoothly and that the people of Chios come to get vaccinated. This wall of immunity will help us move forward.” Arkoumaneas echoed Mitarakis’ sentiments saying, “We have to build the wall of immunity in the coming months for all of us because yes we are seeing there is a reduction in the pandemic but it’s not finished. He still needs our full attention.” Mitarakis and Arkoumaneas visited Chios Hospital and were briefed by Governor Ms. Eleni Kantarakis, who said citizen participation overall is good, despite recent negative reports suggesting otherwise.
Regarding vaccinations on the Aegean islands, according to official statistics, only 15% of the Greek migrant population have declared so far that they want to be vaccinated.
However, early last week, Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced that the percentage of fully vaccinated people on the islands stands at 27%, noting that it is higher at 20.39%, which is the corresponding percentage for the entire region. (ANS Amed).