Greece begins migrant repatriation flights

Families board an airplane bound for Iraq at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 06 August 2020

Greece begins migrant repatriation flights

  • Five thousand economic migrants overall will be offered incentives of €2,000 per person to return home
  • More than 25,000 asylum seekers live in camps on the five Aegean islands that were originally built to handle just 6,095 people

ATHENS: A first flight voluntarily returning economic migrants to their home country departed Greece Thursday, launching an EU-funded scheme aimed at relieving pressure on the state where most new arrivals reach the bloc.
The first group to depart Athens, comprising 134 Iraqis, was “the biggest voluntary return our country has ever carried out, and the biggest in Europe this year,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.
Five thousand economic migrants overall will be offered incentives of €2,000 ($2,400) per person to return home.
Applicants must have crossed into Greece prior to January 1, 2020, and still be present on the islands of Leros, Samos, Lesbos, Kos and Chios. They will have a month to apply.
The deadline can be extended by another month to make up the required number in the event of a low turnout, the migration ministry has said.
Announced in March, the EU scheme was inactive until now because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The money is designed to help asylum-seekers start afresh in their countries of origin, EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said at the time.
More than a million migrants and refugees arrived in Greece in 2015 and 2016, according to the UN refugee agency. There are now around 120,000 in the country.
More than 25,000 asylum seekers live in camps on the five Aegean islands that were originally built to handle just 6,095 people.


Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

Updated 16 January 2021

Bomb kills two policemen in Afghan capital

  • Two policemen were killed and one wounded
  • The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks

KABUL: A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle in the Afghan capital killed two policemen Saturday, officials said, as violence continues unabated in Afghanistan despite peace talks between the Taliban and government.
The vehicle carrying the policemen was struck by the bomb in the center of the capital on the road to the prestigious Kabul University, police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said.
Two policemen were killed and one wounded, Faramarz said.
Violence has surged across the country in recent months, especially in Kabul which is also rocked by a new trend of targeted killings that has sown fear in the city.
The bloodshed comes even as the Taliban and government negotiators engage in peace talks to end the nearly two decade war in the country.
The two warring sides are currently in the Qatari capital Doha discussing the agenda items of the talks.