The Citizens’ Protection Ministry on Wednesday heralded a new program aimed at returning 7,000 undocumented immigrants to their homelands as part of a voluntary repatriation scheme being financed with 7.5 million euros from the European Union and 2.5 million euros in state cash.
The program forms part of a “broader national plan aimed at managing immigration flows,” according to the ministry, which has also stepped up deportations of undocumented immigrants in recent weeks.
The new program is the latest in a series of voluntary repatriation schemes that have been coordinated by the Greek office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which cites a 50 percent increase in applications by migrants.
But according to the director of the IOM’s Athens office, Daniel Esdras, bureaucracy has delayed implementation.
A total of 2,258 migrants have been voluntarily returned to their homelands since March 2010. This is less than half the number of those who have lodged applications.