Greek government’s new policy on the migration-refugee issue

Greek government’s new policy on the migration-refugee issue

Decongestion of the islands, tighter guarding of the borders and changing the institutional framework for granting political asylum have been included in the measures to address the steady increase in migratory-refugee flows to the Aegean islands in recent months.

The refugee-migration issue was discussed at the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which according to the announcement of the government spokesman, Stelios Petsas, analyzed the situation in depth and reached the following decisions:

– Decongestion of the islands with the transfer of immigrants/refugees to existing inland infrastructures.

– Immediate transfer from the islands of 116 unaccompanied children to reunite with their families in other European Union countries with which agreements have already been reached. In the coming weeks, an additional 250 unaccompanied children will be moved to safe inland infrastructures.

-Increase of border surveillance, in cooperation with both FRONTEX and the European authorities, as well as with NATO. In this context, the adoption – after the 4.5-year of inactivity by the previous government – of the National Integrated Maritime Surveillance System – a 50 million euro budget system that interconnects the Coast Guard and Armed Forces systems, through the use of new technologies (“simple” and thermal cameras, drones, etc.) is proceeding promptly.

-Change of the institutional framework for the asylum procedure by removing the second stage of appeals, in order – in the event of an asylum application being rejected – to proceed immediately with the return of the applicant to the country of origin. Always respectful of the acquis communautaire and of the full implementation of the European Union – Turkey Joint Declaration. In this context, Turkey should also take up its responsibilities.

– Increased police searches on islands and mainland Greece to identify persons who had applied for asylum but their application was rejected by the courts. It is noted that there are several thousand such cases for which the previous government has taken no action and of which the Police have already identified approximately 1,000 persons for whom their return process is underway.

– Immediate supply of 10 new flexible small boats for rapid response in case of the detection of transportation of migrants/refugees from illegal traffickers departing from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands.

– The support of local communities by empowering the necessary infrastructure and staff (eg support to Lesvos with medical and nursing staff).

Greece is in close cooperation with our partners in the European Union on this issue”./ibna