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Greek minister says most migrants no longer are refugees

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/01/2017
Refugee Moustafa Abdulrahman, 2, from Kobani, Syria, peeks out while standing outside his family's shelter at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) © The Associated Press Refugee Moustafa Abdulrahman, 2, from Kobani, Syria, peeks out while standing outside his family's shelter at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Athens, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. Over 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece after a series of Balkan border closures and an European Union deal with Turkey to stop migrant flows. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

THESSALONIKI, Greece — Greece's minister for migration says most people entering the country illegally from Turkey no longer are refugees, but economic migrants.

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said Thursday that the people arriving on Greek islands from are not predominantly from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, a shift from the mass arrivals in 2015.

Mouzalas praised a 10-month-old deportation deal between the European Union and Turkey that human rights groups have criticized.

He claims that 100,000 more migrants and refugees would have been stranded in Greece without the agreement.

Greece has reported that about 60,000 people are stranded in the country due to border closures elsewhere in Europe last year. Most live in government-built camps or state-sponsored housing schemes.

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