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    Refugees and migrants walk after disembarking from passenger ferry Blue Star1 at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, February 20, 2016.

    Some 32,000 Refugees Currently Reside in Greece - Defense Ministry

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    There are currently about 32,000 migrants on the territory of Greece, Alternate Minister of National Defense Dimitris Vitsas said on Thursday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier this week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the number of refugees crossing into Europe through the Mediterranean had exceeded 131,000 in the first two months of 2016, which is more than the total for the first half of 2015.

    "As of 8 a.m today, there are 6,857 people on the island, on the mainland there are 24,985 people," Vitsas told a news conference.

    Hundreds of thousands of migrants used to travel through the Balkans to reach Europe last year. Earlier this week, the route across Greece was chocked off. In Addition, a number of EU states, including the Balkans, introduced additional measures to cut migrant intake, including sending the military to the borders to tackle migrant crisis.

    Following the moves, a number of refugees in Greece to increased, which "created a new situation with migrants" in the country, which Vitsas called "hard" for the European Union.

    Late last month, as border restrictions between Greece and Macedonia were imposed, the refugees were moved from the border to a relocation camp in Schisto, near Athens.

    According to Vitsas, the Greek authorities should build the necessary infrastructure at the relocation center for three months. He added that the upgraded version of the center would be ready to host up to 15,000 refugees.

    On Wednesday, the European Union launched a 700-billion-euro aid program for Greece to help guarantee the basic needs of refugees in the country.

    The UNHCR called on the Greek authorities to work closely with the European Asylum Support Office and EU member states to reinforce its capacity to process asylum-seekers through the national asylum procedure, as well as through the European relocation scheme.

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