Several dozen refugees, mainly Syrian women and children, pitched tents in front of the parliament building in Athens on November 1. The group demanded to be reunited with family members in other EU countries.
“Reunite our families,” read one sign held by the group of mainly Syrians, who threatened to engage in a hunger strike.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in Greece can wait 10 months or as long as two years to be reunited with family. In some cases, they may not qualify.
Local media reported in May that Germany and Greece agreed to slow down family reunification.
However, Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas told reporters on November 1 that there has been a 27% increase in family reunifications this year compared to last year.
He added that the German government had provided reassurances that refugees in Greece with family members in Germany would eventually be able to rejoin their loved ones.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, about 60,000 refugees and migrants, mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, have become stranded in Greece after border closures in the Balkans halted the onward journey many planned to take to central and western Europe.
Nearly 148,084 refugees and migrants have crossed to Greece from Turkey this year. This is a fraction of the nearly 1m arrivals in 2015 – but arrivals have picked up in recent months.
Meanwhile, Mouzalas announced the government is in talks with local authorities to move refugees and migrants to local accommodation, including hotels. The government is also planning to increase the capacity of some facilities.