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Protests erupted at a Greek migrant facility near the Turkish border on Tuesday, resulting in 25 arrests and damage to the converted shipping containers that are now being used as living quarters for migrants who arrived from Turkey.
People who enter Greece illegally are registered at the detention centers and temporarily detained until they are able to apply for asylum, but the process has been severely delayed due to lockdown restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But even before the virus began to sweep across the world, prompting halts on travel, asylum seekers — many of whom were unaccompanied migrant children — were living in squalid conditions at the Greek facilities, which currently houses 250 asylum-seekers, the Evros Police Department said.
Greece has struggled to cope with illegal immigration from Turkey, both at the land border and on the Greek islands, that spiked before the country's virus outbreak.
In late February and early March, a dispute between Turkey and the European Union led to a standoff at the Turkey-Greece land border. Thousands of Europe-bound asylum-seekers flocked to Turkey's side of the border after the Turkish government said it would no longer prevent migrants from trying to cross over to Greece.
Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, a European affairs minister, said finding appropriate placements within the European Union for children and teenagers remains a priority.
"As you know, our capacity has been exhausted, so our initiatives are being taken on a European level, and we have already had some success with Luxembourg and Germany,” he said.
The Greek government began to lift travel restrictions on May 4, and a flight carrying some 50 asylum-seekers flew to the UK on Monday to be reunite migrants with their family members who live there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.