2 days before EU sends emergency border guard teams to Greece, migrants still streaming in November 9, 2010Posted by Yilan in Yunanistan.
Tags: Greece, Migrants
Two days before European Union border agency Frontex is to deploy its first ever rapid intervention teams to help Greece with an illegal immigration crisis, migrants are still streaming across the country’s northeastern border with Turkey.
Dozens of illegal immigrants crossed the border from Saturday night to Sunday morning, wading across streams and tramping through frozen fields to reach frontier villages near the town of Orestiada in far northeastern Greece.
Greece currently accounts for 90 per cent of the EU’s detected illegal border crossings, and has reported 45,000 illegal border crossings in just the first half of 2010, Frontex figures show.
EU sea patrols in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey have stemmed much of the flow of migrants to Greek islands near the Turkish coast, and the vast majority now use the northern land border, with most crossing along a roughly 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) stretch near Orestiada.
Greece, already facing a major financial crisis, has said its facilities are overwhelmed and it cannot cope with the numbers.
Panagiotis Siankouris, mayor of Vyssa, the area that sees the greatest influx, told the AP Sunday that between 100 and 300 people cross each day. Most wait to be picked up by police and taken to a local detention centre, where they are held for a few days before being released with papers that give them a month to leave the country.
Last week, Civil Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis appealed to Warsaw-based Frontex for help, and the agency is to deploy 175 staff to the Orestiada area as Rapid Border Intervention Teams from Tuesday. The deployment is scheduled to last for two months.
“The immigration flow at our borders is very intense” Papoutsis said in an interview in the Free Sunday newspaper. “Alone, our country cannot deal with a phenomenon which is not local, but European. As such it requires European solutions, it requires European co-ordination.”
The minister said Greece was also sending a message “to the international community, the countries which are the starting point of the immigration flow, and to Turkey, from which we expect more co-operation in dealing with the international network of smugglers who are commercializing migrants’ hope for a better life.”
The Frontex rapid intervention officers, drawn from the EU’s 27 countries, will include experts in false documents, border checks, stolen vehicles and clandestine entry, as well as interviewers, interpreters and dog handlers, the agency said Friday.
Frontex is also sending equipment, including a helicopter, buses, patrol cars and vans with thermal imaging equipment from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, as well as a Danish office unit.