More than 53,700 migrants and refugees are currently stranded in Greece, new data provided by the government stated Wednesday. The news comes as Europe struggles to stem the flow of refugees.
More than 29,200 migrants and refugees are currently in northern Greece, a local report that cited the government data said, adding that 13,981 were in Attica, 8,212 on the eastern Aegean islands and the rest scattered around the country. Countries throughout the 28-nation bloc of the European Union have closed their borders, particularly along the Balkans route that leads from Greece through Eastern Europe and up to Germany. The closure of the route has left refugees stranded in increasingly squalid conditions without adequate food and water supply, with many forced to sleep outside amid frequent rains and low temperatures.
In recent weeks, migrant and refugee flows to Greece had fallen due to tighter controls through the western Balkans.
Meanwhile, debate over the controversial EU-Turkey deal continued after it stalled after a surge in last-minute asylum applications. Under the EU-Turkey deal, one refugee from Turkey will be resettled in Europe for every refugee sent back from Greece. This resettlement and return is feasible up to a limit of 72,000, according to the EU's existing resettlement and relocation commitments.
"We have seen a sharp reduction of the illegal migration flows," European Council President Donald Tusk said late last month. Tusk also praised the government as "the best example in the world on how to treat refugees," despite criticism by rights groups over the agreement, which was reached in March.