A group of mainly Syrian women and children who have been stranded in Greece, pitched tents opposite parliament in Athens on Wednesday, protesting against delays in reuniting with relatives in Germany.
Some of the refugees; who say they have been in Greece for over a year, stated that they had begun a hunger strike. “Our family ties are stronger than your illegal agreements,” read a banner held up by one woman, referring to deals on refugees between European Union nations.
According to Greek media reports, Greece and Germany informally agreed to slow down refugee reunification in May, stranding families in Greece for months after they fled Syria’s civil war. Greece denies this.
“Concerning family reunification, we managed an increase of about 27% this year compared with last year, even though we’re accused of cutting back and making deals to cut back family reunification,” Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas told reporters.
Mouzalas said Greece had assurances from Germany that refugees whose applications have been accepted will eventually go to Germany even if there are delays. He denied that refugees had to pay for their flights.
He added that the government was in talks with local authorities to move refugees and migrants to local accommodation, including hotels, and it also planned to increase the capacity of some facilities.