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Greece to send 1,000 refugees to Portugal - migration ministry

Over 70,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece following a mass influx from 2015 onwards.

FILE: Migrants and refugees hold a placard (C) reading on hunger strike they wait to cross the border between Greece and Macedonia near the Greek village of Idomeni on 21 November 2015. Picture: AFP.

ATHENS - Greece’s migration ministry on Friday said it had concluded a bilateral agreement with Portugal to gradually relocate 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers.

“A first phase involves the relocation of 100 persons granted and/or seeking international protection who are currently in Greek (camps),” the ministry said in a statement.

Over 70,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece following a mass influx from 2015 onwards. Most were fleeing war-torn Syria and want to go to wealthier EU states such as Germany.

Of these, over 15,000 are housed in badly overcrowded camps on Greek islands where living conditions have been repeatedly criticised by rights groups.

Conditions are worst on the islands of Lesbos and Samos, where there are over 9,000 people in camps built to handle a third of that number.

The Greek government says the problem is partly caused by a huge backlog of refugee asylum applications, and by the refusal of several EU states to take in asylum-seekers.

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