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Migrant arrivals’ drop 90% in Greece, undercover agents come, EU-Turkey deal is the one

 

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Europol agents on the Greek islands 

Till the end of June , up to 50  ‘guest officers’ will be deployed by Europol on rotation at key points on the external border of the EU to strengthen the security checks on the inward flows of migrants, in order to identify suspected terrorists and criminals, a EUROPOL press release announced.

They will help reinforce security at the external borders of the EU by

  • supporting the secondary security check process,
  • by cross-checking data against data held in specialist counter-terrorist and other databases at Europol, and
  • by facilitating rapid and secure information exchange between Member States.

This will not include first line border control, although the officers will work closely with those from Frontex involved in such a task. The officers will work under the responsibility and legal framework of the country of deployment.

Europol’s Management Board  approved the recruitment of up to 200 counter-terrorist and other investigators for deployment to migration hotspots in Greece and other countries, EUROPOL press release said, adding that . Europol will form this pool of law enforcement officers through their secondment from national services in EU Member States.

Undercover agents  already arrived

On previous weeks, the Slovenian director of Europol’s newly-established European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC)  Robert Crepinko, had told on an interview  that  10 undercover officers had already been  stationed on the islands of Chios, Samos, Lesvos and Leros where refugee registration centers are in operation, as well as in Piraeus Port,  doing secondary security checks to assess the possibly dangerous migrants before they would enter the EU

Crepinko added that the Europol agents would also offer aid to the Greek authorities, in the effort to locate and stop migrant smugglers operating in Greece. 

New trafficking migration routes in Europe

The Slovenian official said that “We are looking into possible new routes that the migrant smuggling networks would use and we already have some developments in the new routes that have been used by organized crime,” , citing information that migrant traffickers are exploring options through Albania and Bulgaria.

 

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Arrivals drop in Greece , rise in Italy

“The drop in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands was dramatic.” Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said on Friday , presenting the data of  90 percent drop on the number of migrants arriving in the Greek islands  in April, compared to the previous month.

But for the first time in a year, the latest UN figures present more migrants arriving in Italy than Greece, trying to make their way into Europe

 9,149 migrants arrived to the shores of Italy in April,  while Greece received 3,462 people, figures of the UN’s refugee agency show.

Fewer than 2,700 people had entered in April.the European Union’s border agency Frontex said Friday,  putting  the drop down to the effect of the EU’s migrant agreement with Turkey and tight border controls at the Greek -FYROM border.

In March, before the EU-Turkey deal came into force, under which Ankara pledged to take back migrants from Greece, 26,971 people arrived to Greece, while 9,676 arrived to Italy.

Different countries of origin 

But migrants arriving in Italy are not coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the three major groups trying their luck through Greece.

Asylum seekers making their way through the Mediterranean are primarily from Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African nations.

Concerns that migrants will increasingly take the Italian route have prompted fears of another mass influx, leading Austria to plan to restrict access through the its Brenner border crossing with Italy, the eurobserver wrote.

The EU Commission has expressed concern over the effect this could have on the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone.

 

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Transport and tourism harmed say MEPs

Several MEPs at the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.on Wednesday May 11, demanded, addressing to the European Commissioner on Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the lift of “intermediate steps of Schengen roadmap”, and warned the  Commissioner that the internal border checks  could seriously harm both transport and tourism in Europe.

Avramopoulos : there is no Plan B

 Rumors  that move EU – Turkey agreement focus form Turkey to Greece as a “plan b”, are not real

the  European Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos answered to the European Parliament and underled  that there is only one plan based on solidarity and tackling of traffickers on EU – Turkey deal implementations. Avramopoulos stressed that  “rumours can do only harm” .

“till the end of the year”

These border checks are “exceptional and temporary” European Commissioner said, assuring the MEPs  that the aim is to lift them by the end of the year, at the latest

This happened on parallel, on the same day that  President of the European Parliament was announcing the No to to Turkey’s visa liberalisation

 

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Martin Schultz: I stopped Visa process

“The Turkish Parliament has not yet fulfilled and I stopped the process”, said Martin Schulz, explaining why the Commission sent to the European Parliament the 72 visa liberalisation benchmarks of which  seven , he said  are not yet met .“This is a point of disagreement, we should not hide it,” Martin Schulz added talking to the reporters on a press conference with the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs.This happened on parallel, on the same day that  President of the European Parliament was announcing the No to to Turkey’s visa liberalisation

Martin Schulz said that

the scope of Turkey’s anti-terror laws were “so far reaching that we think that some of the measures are touching not directly the fight against terrorism but, for example, the freedom of expression and of media.”

The EU-Turkey deal in dangerous moments

“We are trying to save the package,”  Volkan Bozkır, the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator told the reporters .

Volkan Bozkır described as parts of the package the opening of chapters, the €3 billion plus €3 billion, energy platforms, economy and customs union and also EU – Turkey readmission agreement

The deal between the EU and Turkey to end the migrant crisis is facing “a very dangerous moment”  Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said,  heightening more tension between the two sides in honoring the deal, whie Europe is seeing the recent encouraging results

 

 

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In the name of a #Christian Europe some raised the Fences, said @atsipras to @Pontifex, Some #Refugees might be #Angels, said @EcuPatriarch

Tsipras welcoming the Pontifex

Tsipras welcoming the Pontifex

Pontifex at the refugee camp Lesvos, ED @EASO welcoming the Pope

Pontifex at the refugee camp Lesvos, ED @EASO welcoming the Pope

Lesvos holds the historical meeting , United Pray to God

Lesvos holds the historical meeting , United Pray to God

Pontifex, Bartholomew, bringing Christian word closer than ever

Pontifex, Bartholomew, bringing Christian word closer than ever

Visit our Special Story by Greek to me !

In the name of a #Christian Europe some raised the Fences, said @atsipras to @Pontifex, Some #Refugees might be #Angels, said @EcuPatriarch

 

Stay with us on extensive Popes historical meeting coverage, by greek2m.org

 

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Hepatitis diagnosed in Idomeni

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A 9 year old refugee child from Syria has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A at the open refugee camp of Greece’s borders with FYROM, Idomeni, the Greek Centers for Disease Control announced, and is transfered to a hospital of Thessaloniki

The kid had travelled with his family from Syria to Greece, and meanwhile stayed for a couple of days in Turkey, his parents realtives said  to the authorities and the Disease Control doctors. His condition is stable, the Greek CDC announcement said on Saturday afternoon .
 

“The Greek CDC(HCDCP), in collaboration with local health agencies, has taken all imjmediated actions for the prevention and the entrenchment of the disease in vulnerable refugee populations”, the organisation’s Press Release said

 The measures include:

a) compliance with basic hygiene guidelines, such as hand washing hygiene, especially before preparing food and eating, and each time after toilet use, the disinfection of toilets, and the use of safen clean drinking water and

b) the timely recognition of cases, the provision of care and proper isolation.

c) Vaccination of close contacts of the patient and of susceptible individuals is also immediately after the diagnosis planned.

The Greek CDC, (HCDCP) also reminds by its announcement that  hepatitis A virus is not transmitted through simple  social contact in the general population.

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Find all the updates about Greece’s incredible humanitarian  crisis with the 50.000 refugees trapped in its borders,  on our Greek to me HomePage 

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Balkan route closed, EU to declare

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The EU Ambassadors meeting

The Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe is going to be closed, EU leaders will declare today Monday at their summit with Turkey in Brussels, diplomats and officials said over the weekend, after a meeting on Sunday, the news site  POLITICO revealed.

Their statement — to be approved by leaders today, Monday March 7— was discussed by EU ambassadors on Sunday afternoon.

“Irregular flows of migrants along the Western Balkans route are coming to an end; this route is now closed,”

according to a copy of the document obtained by the news site .

Der Standard leak

Two days earlier aslo, the Austrian Newspaper Der Standard claimed it has seen a draft of the communiqué which stated that the Western Balkan route would  immediately shut down and Europe would provide the necessary support to Greece to deal with the refugees and immigrants to be stuck in the country.

According to Der Standard, the draft of the communiqué included a readmission agreement with Turkey for immigrants who do not qualify for asylum. Also, Europe would ask Turkey to participate directly and constructively in the control of EU external borders in the Aegean Sea.

Moreover, the draft stated, Der Standard  revealed, that the presence of Frontex in Greece would be enhanced, particularly at Greece borders with FYROM and Albania, while among FRONTEX responsibilities would be the proper functioning of the hotspots, where refugees will be registered and being prepared for their relocation to other European countries. EU countries should have done more than they have committed to do at this moment by April 1, as it is stated. According to the same draft, Europol would also participate in the process being also responsible for dismantling the trafficking.

Roadmap to Schengen

According to the Politiko article of Monday 03/07 , the ambassadors’ meeting did not last long and ambassadors also endorsed the aim to “take forward, as a matter of priority all the elements of the Commission roadmap,” according to a diplomatic source, who added that the draft statement was not controversial. The migration roadmap, which was put out on Friday, envisages a series of steps for the return to normality in the Schengen area by December, dismantling the internal border controls reintroduced by some member states.

The new commitment to close the Western Balkan route would end the “wave-through policy” that allowed migrants to cross borders with minimal controls.

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Be aware of the other routes

The final statement stresses the need to be aware of other routes that migrants might take if the road running through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia is shut down. There are fears, especially in Rome, that migrants will try to travel north through Albania and across the Ionian Sea to Italy.

This scenario, we have to underline, would be the most nightmarish one for Greece’s tourism, paralizing at most Greece’s tourist attraction at the Western part of the country, the Ionian islands, where most of top world’s celebrities used to trravel especially on summer months .

EU on Turkey’s acceptannce

To help ease the humanitarian strain on Greece, where thousands of migrants are now stuck after borders were closed further to the north, the EU is counting on Turkey’s help.

“I am afraid we could have an intense discussion on that since some are complaining that the EU has been too soft with Ankara,”

said a diplomat.

The summit is intended to address the refugee crisis by making it clear that migrants will be swiftly returned to Turkey and that last year’s “open-door” policy, that made it possible for more than a million people to make their way to Germany, is over.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in his meeting in Ankara with Tusk on Thursday, agreed to step up the return of illegal migrants from Greece as part of a bilateral readmission program with Athens, another official said.

But hours after European Council President Donald Tusk left Ankara last week, Turkish authorities on Friday seized Zaman, the country’s largest opposition newspaper.An agreement at the summit still faces such political hurdles, in particular unease within the EU over a domestic crackdown in Turkey, politiko article notes

“On Monday, I would like us to agree that all available EU tools, including accelerated relocation, should be used to address the humanitarian consequences for the refugees, not least in Greece, in a speedy and effective way,” Tusk wrote in his invitation letter to leaders who’ll gather in Brussels Monday.

Davutoğlu, who will take part in the first session of the summit, also confirmed Turkey’s readiness to take back Syrians rescued in international waters by a NATO-led operation.

NATO-FRONTEX deal

NATO on Sunday reached a deal with Frontex, the EU border agency, on how to coordinate efforts.

“We welcome that Frontex and NATO reached a common understanding today on the modalities of their cooperation in the Aegean Sea,”

said Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, in a joint statement Sunday with the Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. 

On some days, as many as two-thirds of the 3,000 people coming into Greece are non-Syrians. The plan is to give these people a one-way ticket home.

The statement that was worked on Sunday calls for members to approve a humanitarian package for Athens, presented by the Commission on Wednesday, before the next summit of EU leaders on March 17.

Part of the effort to help Athens includes a speeding up of the existing relocation programs for 66,400 refugees from Greece that has largely been moribund, diplomats said. The draft statement calls for action to “accelerate relocation to alleviate the heavy burden that presently weighs on Greece.”

Diplomats said they were optimistic that a consensus will emerge at the summit. The closure of the Balkan route will also soften the problem of Austria’s unilateral decision to impose a yearly and daily cap on the number of refugees the country will accept, a decision branded by the Commission as a violation of international law, said an official.

 

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SOURCE : POLITICO.

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We plan special campaigns and travel programs for the islands especially hit by refugee flows said @tsipras_eu

 

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Alexis Tsipras(right) , Nikos Hatzinikolaou (left), on air, Star channel

Talking live on Star Channel TV and  Nikos Hatzinikolaou show, the Greek Prime Minister undelined that Tourism is in the heart of the government’s priorities, and especially the islands and areas that have been hit by the refugees flows numbers at most.

Alexis Tsipras assured that all the measures will be taken to protect the tourist activity in Greece and especially the first receptor areas, the islands of Aegean.

Prime Minister stated that his office, and personally him is in close contact with the Ministry of Greek Tourism, and the Minister Elena Koudoura, as well as with the Mayors of the islands to find in common the proper solutions and action plan demanded to aware the travel community and travelers to Greece  on the safety of their travel, and more, he said, to give them a reason why to visit these isles, that gave the paradigm of humanism to a changing Europe

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Greek Minister of Tourism Elena Koudoura, by Lesvos, Mytilini port background

 

Alexis Tsipras also clarified that Greece’s position was pro FRONTEX and NATO presence in Aegean as to support , but also confirm to the international community that Greek borders  are properly guarded by Greece

 

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National panic in the closed borders’ vast hot spot that is Greece

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Chaos leading to  generalized national panic is the latest  update on refugee crisis in Greece by thousands arriving every day back to Athens from the closed Greek -FYROM border and some more thousands daily sent from the islands to Piraeus and then Athens, while the country realises that not only European solidarity  is a illusion, but more dramatically, that sharing of the refugee burden has proved to be a utopia itself .
“Greece becoming a vast camp”, Peter Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative for International Migration tweeted on Wednesday .
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced in Parliament  that from now on Greece “will not assent to agreements” unless all its partners are forced to participate proportionately in the relocation and resettlement of refugees.
The management of the refugee crisis by Europe has been disappointing,
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday in an address in Parliament, and urged European Union countries to honor the bloc’s decisions on sharing the burden of the  crisis, warning that  that if they did not, Athens would block future agreements.

Alexis Tsipras made clear that

“Greece will not agree to deals (in the EU) if a mandatory allocation of burdens and responsibilities among member countries is not secured.”

“Some don’t realize that the common rules either apply to all or they don’t exist,” he said. “Also, agreements are either implemented by all or they don’t exist. It’s shameful for the decisions taken by the EU heads of state to be annulled by some sub-gatherings,” he said, noting Greece will demand its partners “to act responsibly”.

“We will not allow Greece to become a warehouse of souls,” he said.

Addressing worries that flow restrictions at the northern border could swell the number of migrants stranded in Greece, Tsipras said he would meet political party leaders to form a common stance before an early March summit of EU leaders on the migration crisis.

 

NATO to send illegal migrants back to Turkey

Migrants rescued by NATO vessels in the Aegean Sea will be returned to Turkey, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said early Thursday after the military alliance finalized an operation to monitor the smuggling networks that help people reach Greece.

“In case of rescue of persons coming via Turkey, they will be taken back to Turkey,” Stoltenberg added.

NATO vessels arrived in the Aegean last week, and are carrying out reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities, the NATO chief said, adding that the alliance is also establishing direct links with the European Union‘s border agency Frontex.

Participating NATO vessels can operate in Greek and Turkish waters, but Ankara and Athens have agreed not to send forces into each others‘ waters or airspace, Stoltenberg said. The two sides are embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute.

He noted that NATO is uniquely placed to facilitate the cooperation and exchange of information between Greece and Turkey, as both countries are members of the alliance, while only Greece is in the EU.

Stoltenberg‘s comments came hours before a meeting Thursday of EU interior ministers in Brussels to discuss joint efforts to curb the migrant inflow.

On Wednesday, Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel  agreed to intensify efforts to implement EU decisions and start NATO operations in the Aegean Sea immediately to counter smuggling networks to reduce migrant inflows, while hours earlier,  Angela Merkel had a telephon conference with President Obama, and as well Francois Hollande  and David Cameron, where the four of them  agreed they were firmly committed to the Nato migration mission, noting the importance of Greece and Turkey working together and with the international community to ensure the mission’s success.

Four vessels under German command, including personnel from Canada, Greece and Turkey, were rerouted last week from another part of the Mediterranean Sea, according to NATO officials.

NATO agreed two weeks ago to help combat the flow of migrants to Europe in response to a request by Turkey, Greece and Germany. But work to agree the details of the operation ran into difficulties after Ankara signalled reluctance to take back anyone rescued at sea.

 

sources:: ANA- MPA ,europeonline

 

 

 

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Children taken from their mothers on refugee boats

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Shifts of the route towards smaller islands are the firsr results of Frontex and NATO presence in the Aegean

Are you Syrious Organizaion posted noted on its facebook page today,  that yesterday, the highest refugees arrival rate of the last 40 days occured on  Greek islands, and  presented the figures.

The Mayor of Lesvos Spyros Galinos, confirmed, talking to Greek media today that arrivals of the last couple of days exceed the number of 1500 daily, which is huge for this season of the year , he noted

Meanwhile the Greek Prime Minister finds himself in the middle of the refugee storm talks with the European leaders at the Migration EU summit, without the presence of Ahmet Davutoglou, though , who  cancelled his trip to Brussels due to Ankara terorist attack, two days earlier .

Are You Syrious?’s post 6 hrs

#GREECE‬: Yesterday, 4,611 new refugees were registered on the Greek islands, which was a significant increase and represents the highest arrival rate since 9 January. Yesterday’s arrivals include

  • 2,091 refugees on Lesvos,
  • 1,264 on Chios,
  • 652 on Leros,
  • 300 on Samos,
  • 68 on Kos and a smuch as
  • 223 on Southern Dodecanese.

By 9PM today, at least 634 people have landed on Lesvos shores, more than 1,000 have arrived to Chios , while 20 refugees have arrived to Kos last night, including a pregnant woman whose amnion broke right when she arrived on the island and a cesarian had to be made. She and her baby are fine.
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Today at 3 o’clock in the morning, the Greek Coastguard attempts to stop a new boat from reaching the coast of Lesvos resulted in a havoc and the boat almost crashed on sharp rocks near Skala Sykamia. The tragedy was prevented at the last moment by the intervention of the rescue boat belonging to the team ‘Sea Rescue’.

  • Apart from usual landing sites, refugee crisis has hit the small island of ‪#‎Kastellorizo‬, where more than 700 refugees have landed in the past 48 hours, many of them already sleeping in the open as island’s facilities have a maximum capacity of 500 refugees.
  • Additional 153 refugees have landed on ‪#‎Ro‬ island yesterday, where there are no solidarity groups or any other support.

If refugees continue arriving at this rate, all of them won’t be able to board the ferry towards Athens when it arrives on Friday. According to reports from the ground, the Greek Coast Guard and police are overwhelmed as people continue to arrive.

Turkish coast guard has prevented some crossings to the island this morning, but wasn’t able to stop all of them.According to some opinions, shifts of the route towards smaller islands are the firs result of Frontex and NATO presence in the Aegean, creating more dangerous route for the refugees instead of helping them.

 

 

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#NATO officers at Mytilene Port, Lesvos, February 16, 2016 Photo by Laura Lizancos, via Information Point Volunteers Lesvos, fb

 The smugglers’ warning

Earier this week smugglers have warned NATO and Frontex won’t stop them, and that they have their plan B’s on the sea routes to successfully continue carrying refugees to Greece

 

 

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Turkey is  Sinking the boats, say the refugees

Volunteer voices from Lesvos denounce that Turkish Costgard is sinking refugee boats

On International Volunteers Lesvos – Refugee Crisis, Nili Lowicz-Darby posted , 5hrs

A message just received that a Boat of refugees north north west of Karakos, Lesvos is in Turkish waters and it is “confirmed that Turkish coastguard are hosing the boat with water jet” which means they are sinking the boat using water cannon, a boat of refugees of which at least one third will probably be children and babies.

 

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Greek media:  Children were taken from mothers by Turkish Coast Guard among attempts to sink their boat

According to Local News reports two Syrian refugee women made a complaint to Greek port authorities and humanitarian organizations upon their arrival on the island of Lesvos on Thursday February 18th morning, that a Turkish coast guard vessel took several children from a boat where they were together with their parents and took them back to Turkey.

Furthermore, that the coastguard officer attempted to sink the boat while it was sailing in Turkish territorial waters.

According to eye-witnesses, Omar Sindu, refugee from Syria:

«The Turkish coast guard patrol boat took the children and some other passengers form the boat. Several passengers resisted because they did not want to return to Turkey. Then the Turkish coast guard tried to destroy the boat, in an effort to force the passengers to get on the coast guard boat. But the boat increased speed and managed to escape.

We are later rescued by a Greek boat that took us to Lesvos.”

Accoding to the Greek media reports the UN High Commission for Refugees is informed and trying to reunite the two families.

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