A group of 234 refugees were relocated from Greece to France on Wednesday, as part of the EU refugee relocation program, and with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Migration Policy Minister Yannis Mouzalas; who was at Athens International Airport to see them off, welcomed France’s solidarity with Greece, stressing that much remains to be done to effectively deal with the refugee and migrant crisis.
With wide smiles on their faces, 132 adults and 102 children; most of them families of two to nine people, left Athens for Lyon dreaming of a better future. On Wednesday Mouzalas urged for more assistance to be provided to refugees.
“A decision has been made for relocation directly from third countries. If we want to crack down on the mafia rings involved in human trafficking, the EU must adopt as its main tool of solidarity the direct resettlement from the countries where these refugees and migrants are. This is a very important issue for us,” the Greek official said.
“Relocation is a principle of solidarity and there should be more solidarity in the EU in trying to help countries which are on the frontline in receiving these people. Relocation cannot be the only tool. It has to be complimented with resettlement from the countries where these people are as refugees,” IOM’s Regional Response Coordinator Gianluca Rocco told media at the airport.
The French Ambassador to Greece; Christophe Chantepy, stressed that France is fully engaged in the process of refugee relocation.
“The relocation policy worked and it is a success. It is a symbol of solidarity in Europe and you all know that solidarity is the EU’s blood. This is a new beginning in their lives for all these people, families and children,” he said.