Commission report records progress in Greece on the refugee problem

Commission report records progress in Greece on the refugee problem

Athens, February 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Progress records the European Commission’s report on the management of the refugee in Greece, which was published on Wednesday.

Specifically, the report notes that the creation of hot spots in the Greek islands (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos) was delayed because there was no adequate infrastructure and facilities and had to be built from scratch. It is note that the only operating hot spot is located in Lesvos, while for facilities on other islands the works continue.

It is also recalled that in order to achieve the operational objective of the hot spots until February 15, the Greek army has taken over their construction.

Moreover, the Commission notes that the Greek authorities have made improvements in the operation of the hot spots and have completed standard operating procedures, and the direct transfer process of people disembarking the islands in registration centers. In parallel, Frontex has begun coastal patrols in Lesvos, Chios and Samos, which have brought results.

Moreover, it is noted that there has been a “significant increase” in the proportion of immigrants of whom have taken fingerprints (from 8% at the end of September 2015 to 78% in January 2016). It is note that by the time the first reception centers in Greece are fully operational and equipped, they are expected to reach a total capacity of fingerprint taking of around 11,000 people per day, a number that far exceeds the average numbers of arrivals in January. At the same time, special experts are checking travel documents to detect forged and falsified documents.

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As regards the agreement on the relocation from Greece of 66,400 refugees, the Commission notes that the process so far has been slow, as only 218 relocations have been made. Only 15 Member States have offered to Greece a total of 1,081 places for relocation, while 16 Member States have designated liaison officers to support the process on site. It is also noted that the Greek authorities have improved refugee registration capabilities and have opened a second office in Samos where most infrastructure for accommodation and transport exists, with the support of the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR).

Moreover, it is recalled that in December 2015 the Commission adopted a program of EUR 80 mln to support the refugees in Greece, which includes 20,000 places under the UNHCR management and the creation of 7,000 places in the first reception centers areas. Under this scheme, there are now 16,400 places available.

In addition there are 7.181 places in temporary facilities at the East Aegean Islands and 10 447 places in mainland Greece. Therefore, the total number of existing slots in Greece currently stands at 17 628.

However, it is noted, there is still a lack of 12.342 places, compared with the 50,000 new places for which Greece agreed in October 2015.

Regarding the economic migrants return, the Commission notes that since the beginning of 2015, Greece has made 16,131 forced returns and 3,460 voluntary supported returns of economic migrants who had no right to asylum in Europe. It is note that this number is still insufficient in relation to the number of arrivals, which exceeded 800,000 in 2015.