Athens, 5th of March, 2019



The 5th edition of the Newsletter concerning the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece has just been published by the Secretariat for Crisis Management Communication, of the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media. This includes information for the period January-December 2018, as well as the actions of Greek authorities and other organizations in this field.

Summarizing the 2018 data, Migration Policy Minister Mr. Dimitris Vitsas, stresses among others that:

“The complexity of the refugee-migration issue remains a major challenge that the Greek state is committed to managing, based on the principles and values of humanity and solidarity. Indeed, these principles and values were from the very beginning the compass for shaping and implementing our policy. The same principles and values obviously underpin all our work concerning this sensitive issue.”
On her part, Special Secretary for Crisis Management Communication Mrs. Fotini Pantiora highlights that: “recording the real figures of the refugee-migrant issue contributes to the most objective and thorough information of the public on such a sensitive matter, the dimensions of which transcend the boundaries of Greece.” She also notes that Greece has consistently supported collective European initiatives, based on the principles of solidarity and humanity, with respect for international law and human rights.
According to data provided by the Minister for Migration Policy:
Refugee and migrant flows increased in 2018 compared to the previous year. In 2018, 32,115 people entered Greece via the Eastern Aegean islands, compared to 29,130 in 2017 (an increase of about 10%) and 15,814 people came via the Evros River, compared to 5,577 in the previous year (an increase of about 280%).
At the end of 2018, there were 11,683 people living at the Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) of five Eastern Aegean islands (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos, Leros), compared to 18,107 people in September 2018.
Τhis significant decrease was achieved by transferring 29,090 people, mainly belonging to vulnerable population groups, from the islands to the mainland over the previous year.
In 2018, 66,970 asylum applications were filed compared to 58,642 in 2017.
Throughout 2018, 10,746 refugees and migrants left the country: 322 returned on the basis of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement, 4,968 returned to their countries of origin under the voluntary return programme managed by the International Organization for Migration, and 5,456 reunited with their families in other countries of the European Union.
At the end of 2018, 22,686 people were accommodated on the mainland in apartments under optimum conditions, in the framework of the “ESTIA” programme which was carried out in collaboration with the UNHCR. In the immediate future, the plan is to increase by 5,000 the number of available vacancies in apartments under the “ESTIA” programme.
In addition, 18,369 people lived in 26 open Hospitality Structures on the mainland.
In the framework of the Temporary Housing Programme, implemented in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 6,793 people were accommodated in apartments and hotel rooms.
As far as the integration of refugee children in education is concerned, for the 2018-2019 school year, approximately 12,500 refugee and migrant children attend classes in the mainstream school system or classes within the Hospitality Structures.
The next major goal is the implementation of a National Integration Strategy. “We firmly believe that a ‘Greek integration model’, aiming at mutual understanding, peaceful and creative coexistence and interaction, can decisively contribute to the elimination of the phenomena of intolerance, racism and xenophobia in the whole of Greek society,” Mr. Vitsas underlines.
The newsletter also includes data on refugee and migrant labor-market integration from the Ministry of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity. According to these, the total number of registered refugees with OAED amounted to 6,150 by the end of 2018 (3,645 men and 2,505 women).
According to the latest data from the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP), in 2018 there were no serious public health risk incidents in the Reception and Identification Centres and the Refugees and Migrants Hospitality Centres. According to data from the National Centre for Health Operations, in October-November-December, 17,601 refugees received treatment in the country’s healthcare facilities.
This annual edition is dedicated to the memory of three very important people who are no longer with us: Grandmother Maritsa Mavrapidi from Mytilene, the hero of the Aegean, Chief Mate Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Dionysis Arvanitakis, the Baker of Kos. All three of them symbolize in the most tangible way the universal values of solidarity and humanity, with which the overwhelming majority of the Greek people embraced the refugees and migrants.
The newsletter is available online here: