One hundred and thirty four Iraqis voluntarily returned to their country on a charter flight that departed on Thursday from Athens International Airport, as part of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) program that is being implemented with the support of the International Organization for Migration.
Among the group that departed were 38 children — two of them unaccompanied.
According to Greece’s Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi, who was at the airport to witness the departures, this was the “largest voluntary return that has been carried out this year in the EU and the largest ever for Greece.”
He also added that the government will continue the voluntary returns. “Our aim is to reach 5,000 returns in 2020, giving priority to migrants that are on the Greek islands. In combination with border protection, the decongestion of the islands and the country is, step by step, becoming a reality,” he noted.
The Ambassador of Iraq to Greece, Shorsh Khalid Said, explained that last year approximately 4,000 Iraqis returned to their country; this is believed to be due to the improved security conditions in Iraq.