Authorities are planning to set up four new reception centers for immigrants on islands of the Aegean (Chios, Lesvos, Samos and Rhodos) to cope with the rising influx of migrants and refugees into Greece by sea that has been prompted by more effective policing along the Turkish land border. The Greek police announced that in the period between August 1st and September 17, 2012, 44 arrivals of refugee boats were registered with a total of 831 refugees being arrested on the Aegean islands.
The decision to set up the centres was taken during a meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Defense Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Merchant Marine Minister Costas Mousouroulis. The aim is as they say to prevent the incoming migrants from traveling to the mainland until they are deported. Government officials also reportedly decided to intensify inspections by coast guard vessels and members of the European Union border monitoring agency, Frontex, along the sea borders.
Minister of Citizen Protection Dendias also presented to Samaras a plan code-named “Ioni” aimed at dealing with an anticipated influx of refugees from Syria ad deterring them form entering Greece. According to sources, the plan outlines three scenarios, foreseeing the refugees’ arrival in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. In either of the latter two cases, Greek authorities would help the neighboring countries. In the event that the refugees arrive in Greece, the plan is to temporarily detain them on Crete. Turkey is believed to be accommodating 83,000 Syrian refugees though authorities have indicated they cannot host more than 130,000. Reports suggest that around 250,000 Syrians have fled their homeland.
The old detention centres of Chios and Samos are already in the hands of the police and a planned amount of 95.000 was decided to be invested for their renovation following complaints of local police officers concerning the devastating state of the buildings. On Lesvos island the police officers also filed complaints about the detention conditions in the overcrowded police stations. As they said in the main police station of Mytilini there were 60 persons detained instead of the possible maximum of 28.
Meanwhile during one of the most recent arrivals on September 13, 2012, of sans-papiers on Agathonisi island half of the 58 passengers who had not managed to disembark when a Frontex patrol boat arrived together with a boat of the greek coast guard almost drowned when they were afraid to be pushed back into the Turkish sea and jumped into the sea.
On September 9, 2012 another 16 sans-papiers had arrived on Symi island.
At the same time the police reported on September 5, that arrivals in Evros have been reduced by 84%.
enikos.gr (in greek)
ekathimerini (in english)
samos times (in greek)
embros newspaper of Mytilini (in greek)
embros newspaper of Mytilini (in greek)
rodiaki (in greek)
greek police statistics of reduced arrival in evros (see table in greek)
Frontex to Increase Sea and Air Patrols in Aegean at Greece’s Request
by Niels Frenzen (via Migrants at Sea)
Greek news reports say that Greek officials have made requests to Commissioner Malmström and Frontex for assistance to respond to “increasing migratory pressures on the islands of the Eastern Aegean.” The Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos, Patmos, Leros and Symi in particular have reportedly seen an increase in the number of persons entering from nearby Turkish territory. According to the media reports the assistance will include the deployment of “four aerial vehicle[s], four patrol boats, three mobile surveillance units and eight expert officers, whose costs will be covered by EU funds the agency and the European Commission.”
to vima (in greek)
news now (in greek)
Turkey has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with FRONTEX, the EU’s border management agency, to cooperate against illegal immigration, amid expectations that the EU will soon give the go-ahead for visa liberalization talks with Ankara.
Continue reading ‘Turkey signs deal with EU’s border agency’
On May 21, 2012 an inflatable boat with 17 undocumented refugees was found during a FRONTEX aircraft-patrol on the west of Paleokastritsa in Corfu. The boat was driven to Paleokastritsa accompanied by a floating vessel of the coast guard.
news in Greek
On the same day another boat with 53 sans-papiers was found by the Frontex patrol in the Ioanian Sea at the coast of Preveza. The boat sailed with an escort of the coast patrol to the port of Preveza. The sans-papiers were arrested. A preliminary investigation was conducted by the Port Authority.
news in Greek
A big sailing boat with 60 migrants on board was discovered on May 13 at 4am by an airplane of Frontex flying over the Ioanian. The sailing boat was heading towards Italy. The coast guard of Kerkyra arrested 58 Afghans and two Iranians, as well as two Russian citizens. The boat had collected the migrants from different points near Parga.
Frontex is since months patrolling the Ioanian Sea.
ethnos (in Greek)
On Sunday April 29, three people found a horrible death and four were seriously injured during a police operation at the border. The migrants were chased down by the Greek authorities and Frontex when the car they were in got fire. Greek media reported that the local police force for “Illegal Immigration Enforcement” and members of the European agency for the security of external EU borders “FRONTEX” had spotted a car transporting illegal immigrants. The officers followed the car and cut its way in an attempt to stop it for inspection. However the driver of the car tried to overtake the FRONTEX vehicle, lost control with the effect that the car overturned in a nearby field. The car got immediately fire. Two immigrants and the driver were burned and died on the spot, while four others were seriously injured. The tragedy occurred at the Lykofis village near the Evros borders between Greece and Turkey.
Kathimerini english edition
A 16-year-old boy from Syria, trying to enter Greece from Turkey, lost his life in a police pursuit in the border region of Evros on Thursday, December 1, 2011. The boy was found dead when the vehicle driven by a smuggler lost control and was overturned in the area of Makri, Evros.
The incident happened when Greek border policemen and officials of FRONTEX tried to immobilize two vehicles carrying sans papiers immigrants, moving on Egnatia Odos towards the city of Komotini. The smugglers speeded up and managed to escape.
After a while there was a second attempt by the police to stop the vehicles, at the Makri junction. One of the vehicles crashed, while the second managed to escape. In the vehicle, policemen found a 36-year-old smuggler, two injured immigrants and the dead 16-year-old boy from Syria.
Human Rights Watch published today, on the 21st of September 2011 a report about the Frontex operation in Evros underlining the international responsibility on the human rights violations against sans-papiers and asylum seekers in the detention centres of the region.
The EUs dirty hands
The EUs Dirty Hands: Frontex Involvement in Ill-Treatment of Migrant Detainees in Greece
paranoiex securitex frontex
Frontex reacted immediately with a press release:
FRONTEX’S REACTION TO HRW REPORT
Warsaw, 21 September 2011 – Frontex welcomes the revised report of HRW and is satisfied to note that its comments on the original draft were taken on board. The report now highlights an issue, which we agree, is of great importance.
A Frontexian in Evros
We would like to recall that Frontex fully respects and strives for promoting Fundamental Rights in its border control operations which, however, do not include organization of, and responsibility for, detention on the territory of the Member States, which remains their exclusive remit.
Continue reading ‘Frontex heavily criticised by Human Rights Watch for their involvement in Evros – and PR response by Frontex’