UN says 4,000 asylum-seekers relocated from Greece

They include 849 unaccompanied children who have moved to other EU countries

FILE PHOTO: A small inflatable boat carrying migrants from Afghanistan is towed by rescuers of the Refugee Rescue NGO, near Skala Sikamias, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis/File Photo

More than 4,000 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece to other EU countries since April 2020, UN agencies said on Thursday.

Forty-three flew from Greece to France during on Thursday, said the UN Refugees agency, the International Organisation for Migration and Unicef children's fund.

"We are proud to mark the relocation of 4,000 people from Greece during trying times and are confident that we can do more together with Greece, our partners and governments across Europe," said Gianluca Rocco, the IOM's chief of mission.

Since the start of the EU-funded initiative in April last year, 1,628 refugees, 1,531 asylum-seekers and 849 unaccompanied children have moved from Greece to other EU countries.

Athens said last month the number of asylum-seekers on its islands had fallen below 10,000 for the first time since Europe's migration crisis began in 2015, down from nearly 20,000 people in November 2018.

"European states demonstrate vital solidarity with Greece's communities through the relocation of refugees and vulnerable asylum seekers, and such efforts should become the norm and be expanded," said Mireille Girard, UNHCR representative in Greece.

Germany, France, Portugal, Finland, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg have taken in those relocated, the agencies said.