Greece carries out first relocation of refugees to Luxembourg

A man and his child crying as they scramble ashore on the Greek Island of Lesbos on Oct 14, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey.
A man and his child crying as they scramble ashore on the Greek Island of Lesbos on Oct 14, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey.PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS (REUTERS) - Greece on Wednesday (Nov 4) carried out the first relocation of asylum seekers from its territory to Luxembourg, part of a European Union approved plan to ease the burden on border nations inundated by this year's influx of thousands of refugees.

Six families from Syria and Iraq were being relocated from Athens, among the first under a 780-million-euro (S$1.2 billion), two-year scheme funded by the E U.

Smiling parents holding young children posed for selfieswith Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn beside an airplane on the runway of Athens international airport, before boarding their flight, live footage broadcast by state television showed.

More than 580,000 refugees have entered Greece through its long sea border with Turkey this year, creating a tough logistical, financial and humanitarian challenge for the cash-strapped European Union member state.

Greece has agreed to temporarily house up to 50,000 refugees on its territory this year, with many in quarters subsidised by the United Nations.

In September, the EU approved the transfer of about 160,000 asylum seekers from member states directly affected by the migrant crisis.

About 86 people have already been transferred directly from Italy to Sweden and Finland under the scheme.