EU leaders and Turkey met on Monday in a last-minute attempt to control the massive movement of people across the continent. Greece promised it would deliver on its pledges to shelter 30,000 migrants and refugees within a week, a government spokesman said on the day of the meeting.
Greece has been the main entry point for more than a million people who crossed into Europe from Turkey, escaping war conflicts in Middle East and beyond in what has become the biggest refugee crisis for Europe in generations.
Greece has previously committed to opening reception centers to accommodate 30,000 refugees by the end of 2015 with the United Nations providing another 20,000 places. The agreement was part of an EU plan approved last year.
European Union has also given Greece until May to improve the way it deals with irregular migrants, moving forward a process that could see frontier checks in Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone extended for up to two years.
“By (March) 13 or by March 15 the latest, which means in a week, next Monday, Greece will have more than fulfilled its promises regarding capacity,” spokesman George Kyritsis told Greek Skai television.
“We will have a capacity of at least 37,400 people on March 15 compared to 30,000 we had promised.”
Reuters reported Kyritsis saying that Greece will temporarily shelter another 17,400 people by next week by making available existing buildings and camps.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a media interview published on Saturday that Greece needs to deliver quickly on its promise to provide accommodation for 50,000 refugees and the European Union should help Athens with this task.
Kyritsis stated that the United Nations’ plan has been facing delays.