The first planeful of Afghan illegal migrants that have signed up for the government's Voluntary Return programme departed from Athens' 'Eleftherios Venizelos' international airport on Monday, a few months after the repatriation programme was first launched.
On board the Gulf Air charter flight were 40 migrants from Afghanistan who had opted to return to their home country. The plane will make a stop in Bahrain, where another aircraft will pick them up in order to take them to their final destination.

Illegal migrants signing up for the voluntary return programme receive the price of their airline ticket and 300 euro each.

Their return is assisted by representatives of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)  that accept their applications and police officers stationed at the airport for this purpose.

According to police, the plane's departure marks the start of the second phase of the voluntary return programme. Another 500 foreigners are expected to make use of this programme in order to return to their countries by the end of June.

Another 586 illegal migrants have already been returned to their country of origin during the first phase of the programme.

The programme receives 75 percent of its funding from the European Return Fund and the remaining 25 percent from national funds, while the funds are administrated by the Greek police.