BRUSSELS, March 20. /TASS/. The European Commission (EC) has temporarily suspended implementation of programs on migrant relocation from Greece and Italy camps over the coronavirus threat, but plans to resume this process shortly, the EC representative told TASS Friday.
"In current conditions, we are forced to suspend the relocation process - in particular, relocation of unaccompanied minors - over the significant tightening of sanitary requirements of the member states over the coronavirus pandemic. However, we conduct intensive consultations with member states to resume this process as soon as the situation allows," he said.
The EC representative has also confirmed that the situation on Greek-Turkish border has normalized, and that Ankara continues to fulfill its obligations on border closure for migrants.
A migrant crisis happened after Ankara opened its border in late February, as an attempt to push the EU towards supporting the Turkish military operation in Idlib, but to no avail.
At least two migrant relocation programs currently take place in the EU. One of them is a quota relocation for 160,000 migrants from Italy and Greece, approved in 2015 and still not complete. The other one is directed to emergency relocation of unaccompanied minor migrants.
Italy is Europe’s largest coronavirus hotbed; as the epidemic in China shrinks, Italy might become the largest hotbed in the world. The number of lethal cases there has already reached 3,400 people, which is already more than in China. More than 41,000 people are infected in Italy. Despite total quarantine, imposed by Italian authorities on March 10 and movement ban, epidemic spread does not slow down.
In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in more than 140 countries, including Russia.
On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic. As of now, over 230,000 people have been infected around the world and about 10,000 have died. Russia has identified 199 cases so far. The Russian government has launched an Internet hotline to keep the country’s people informed about the coronavirus situation.