Several thousand migrants have been resettled from Greece and Italy to other EU members states in recent months and such pace should be continued, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said.
“Three months ago I was very disappointed with poor results. But the resettlement process has lately shown progress: 6,000 people have been resettled from Greece and Italy to other EU states. And if we keep this pace, gained over the past few months, we will be able to say soon that this mechanism works,” Avramopoulos told Il Messsaggero newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday.
According to the commissioner, Italy and Greece deserve to be praised for the fact that they show humanity in such difficult conditions in relation to desperate people seeking to reach wealthy European states.
In September 2015, the European Commission announced a quota scheme for each EU member state providing for the resettlement of 160,000 refugees, in particular, from Greece and Italy, throughout EU countries by 2017.
On Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that over 328,000 migrants and refugees had entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. According to the IOM, over 153,000 migrants have arrived in Italy alone, which is 10 percent more than during the same period in 2015.
Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their crisis-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty. The majority of them cross the Mediterranean Sea and arrive in the European Union using southern EU nations as transit points.