In the past year, two events took place that has made it harder for Muslim refugees who made it to Greece to advance further to the European mainland and thus the richer nations of Western Europe.
First of all, the Balkan blockade is now in full, meaning that the passage from Greece through the Balkans (Croatia, Hungary, Austria) is now shut by fences, walls and border police.
Secondly, German election results have made Chancellor Angela Merkel realize that most of the German electorate did not approve of her immigration and she has since decided to make it harder for so-called family re-unifications (when women and children can join the men that have already arrived) to take place.
This has resulted in an ever larger group of mainly Muslim refugees to be stuck in Greece (60,000 refugees and migrants, mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis).
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Days 16<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Demonstration?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Demonstration</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mytilini?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mytilini</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/refugeesgr?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#refugeesgr</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/refugee?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#refugee</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hungerstrike?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#hungerstrike</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Greece?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Greece</a> <a href="https://t.co/yaEFjRgLku">pic.twitter.com/yaEFjRgLku</a></p>— arash hampay (@AHampay) <a href="https://twitter.com/AHampay/status/926375282319257600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 3, 2017</a></blockquote>
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With the help of human rights groups, some of them are now camping in tents near the parliament in the Greek capital Athens to protest against the delays in reuniting with relatives in Germany. A small group, in an effort to gain press coverage, have started hunger strikes.
Greek Migration Minister Mr. Yannis Mouzalas told reporters: “What we’ve managed to do on family reunification is to have an increase of about 27 percent this year compared with last year, even though we’re accused of cutting back family reunification and doing deals to cut back family reunification.”
Although there are currently long delays (Merkel doesn’t want those headlines about refugees arriving in the newspapers as she’s negotiation a new governing coalition), Greece says it has received assurances from Germany that refugees whose applications have been accepted will eventually go to Germany. Mr. Mouzalas even denied that refugees would have to pay for their flights.
The European Union has made a deal with Greece and turkey to keep refugees there as from this year, which was referred to in a banner upheld by the protesting refugees that read: “Our family ties our stronger than your illegal agreements.”