Greek Government’s Operational Plan for tackling the Migration/Refugee problem

Greek Government’s Operational Plan for tackling the Migration/Refugee problem

The Government’s Operational Plan to tackle the migration/refugee issue was presented today by government spokesman Stelios Petsas and competent Deputy Minister, Alkiviades Stephanis.

“In the migration-refugee issue the Government has adopted a different policy. We are seeking, in principle, to internationalize the issue and formulate a common European policy, the government spokesman said.

The Plan that was prepared in accordance with the Prime Minister’s directives, and which is still in progress, was presented by Mr. Stephanis:

It provides for

  • Policing the border by setting up a Single Border Surveillance Body
  • Accelerating asylum procedures
  • Operation of closed refugee centers in Islands
  • Instant returns

A priority at this stage in crisis management is the decongestion of the islands

More generally, the Plan provides for two phases of implementation. As far as the first phase of the target is concerned, the transportation of 20,000 migrants from the Aegean islands by the beginning of 2020.

For the second phase and the medium term planning, the following 5 + 1 actions have been planned:

1st: Unaccompanied children

A National Coordinator is appointed through the Presidency of the Government, in co-operation with the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Citizen Protection. Announcements are expected by the Prime Minister himself.

2nd: NGOs

Defining the framework of their obligations and the specific criteria they are required to have. Only those who qualify will remain and operate in the country.

3rd: Asylum and Returns

The adoption of the new law provides the framework needed to speed up procedures and either approve asylum or return non-eligible persons to their country of origin or entry. At the same time, recruitment of 500 people is underway, which will strengthen the Asylum Services.

4th: Construction and Extension of Closed Structures to Islands

The design provides:

Lesvos: In Lesvos, the existing Structure in Moria will gradually be closed down, and a new closed Structure will be created, which will be used as a Pre-Concession Center and Reception and Identification Center (RIC), with a capacity of 5,000+

Chios: In Chios, the existing Structure in VIAL (near Chalkio) will be closed down, while a new closed Structure will be created, which will be used as a Pre-Departure Center and Reception and Identification Center (RIC), with a capacity of 5,000+

Samos: In Samos, the existing Structure in Vathi will be closed down, while the Structure under construction will be expanded and used as a Pre-Concession Center and Reception and Identification Center (RIC), with a capacity of 5,000+

Kos: In Kos, the existing Structure will be turned into a Closed one and will function as a Pre-Concession Center and Reception and Identification Center (RIC), with a capacity of 2,000+

Leros: In Leros, the existing Structure will be turned into a Closed one and will operate as a Pre-Departure Center and Reception and Identification Center (RIC), with a capacity of 1,000 or more.

5th: Compensating measures to strengthen local communities

The extension – until 31.12.2020 – of the 30% reduced VAT rates for the islands of Leros, Lesvos, Kos, Samos, Chios.

The improvement of the structures of Health, Education, Public Welfare and Tourism in areas where immigrants and refugees are welcomed. The government is also committed to making the most of the Structures of the Reception and Identification Centers, to the benefit of the local communities once the issue is completed.

The government is also committed to taking account of the criterion of locality when recruiting for the Structures/RICs.

Finally, by order of the Prime Minister, a special fund of EUR 50 million is set up for 2020 to finance the “Solidarity Program” implemented by the Ministry of Interior in support of municipalities burdened by refugees and immigrants.

The additional action relates to the Ensuring – “Waterproofing” of the Immigrants routs, through the establishment of a single Border Surveillance Body.

The legal framework is in place, staffing has been planned with the recruitment of 400 Border Guards for Evros and 800 for the islands. Already € 14m has already been allocated (on 08 Nov 19) to address immediate needs, procedures have been stepped up to unblock the National Integrated Maritime Surveillance System to achieve maximum efficiency./ibna