Which countries are allowed to travel to Greece from Europe?
Nairobi, Kenya — (AP) The United States and the European Union have agreed to suspend travel to and from Greece until further notice, but that will not extend to the islands of Lesbos and Chios, which have been closed to most international travel since Greece’s bailout program was cut short by a series of austerity measures.
In a statement Friday, the White House said the suspension would not extend the ban on travel to Lesbos or Chios.
“We strongly urge the Greeks to resume travel to their island territories, as they have done throughout the last several weeks,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The White House had not yet said whether the U.S. would waive its travel restrictions for Lesbos, where a record number of migrants are trapped in a desperate situation after being stuck in overcrowded camps on the island since March.
Greece’s finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, said Friday that the country is “fully committed” to returning to the island, where the number of arrivals in Greece has surged in recent weeks.
Venizelo has said the country needs to be “fully transparent” about its plan to re-open the islands, which were closed in March following the departure of a humanitarian group from Greece.
Many migrants have been staying in makeshift camps on Lesbos since March, when Greece’s ruling party called for a mass return to the mainland after a court ordered the closure of the islands.
With the arrival of more than 5,000 migrants from the island of Lesotho in the past 24 hours, Greece has now surpassed its previous record of 1,000 arrivals a day.
After Lesothos, a number of other Greek islands were shut down for weeks as migrants sought to enter Greece.
The government says it is “not a humanitarian crisis” and that “we will not allow anyone to enter the country.”
The Greek government has said that it will not return to Greece the migrants who were trapped in its ports, which are located along its coast.
The country has been facing a massive influx of refugees and migrants. ___