Athens, September 16, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Greece may face increasing difficulties in dealing with the refugees entering the country as unilateral decisions by other European states are causing great congestion, while the deterioration of the weather will not prevent the new arrivals, said today the deputy minister of Maritime Affairs Christos Zois in an interview for Reuters.
“We cannot lift this burden on our own”, Zois told Reuters. “This is not a problem of Greece alone. We are not just guarding the the borders of Greece, we guard the external borders of the European Union. We need support – financial and moral support”, he said, noting that only in July and August, Greece welcomed 150,000 refugees and immigrants.
Asked if he is worried about the possibility of refugees becoming stuck in Greece, the deputy minister said: “I am not optimistic because I see that everyone is trying to gain time, but time is running out”.
At the same time he said he does not expect the wave of immigrants to drop as winter approaches in Europe.
Citing the figures of the High Commission of the United Nations for Refugees, which estimates that about 1.6 million Syrian refugees are on their way to the EU, Zois noted: “I wonder, is there is anyone who believes that this phenomenon at least for the next year, can be abated?”
“The Coast Guard conducts rescue operations… under very difficult conditions, without rest… Neither the means nor the human possibilities are endless”, Zois stressed, noting that more refugees deaths are inevitable.
New tragedy in the Aegean
At least 22 migrants, including four children, were killed in a new maritime disaster off the southwestern coast of Turkey, en route to Kos, according to AFP and the Turkish Dogan news agency.
The immigrants aboard a boat which sank in international waters. They had started from Turkey heading for Kos.
The Turkish coastguard managed to rescue 211 people who were aboard the ship, which had sailed from the area of Datca.
According to the Turkish newspaper “Hurriyet”, the wreck occurred at 6am when the approximately 20 meters-long wooden boat, sank en route to Kos.
The operations for finding survivors continue.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration also predicts more deaths in the Aegean if no action is taken by the EU.
EU to disburse EUR 30 million to Greece for the refugees
The European Commission announced Tuesday that it has received from the Greek Interior Minister Antonis Manitakis, all necessary documents on the establishment of a regulatory authority that would manage the money that will come from the EU for the treatment of refugees.
As stated by the Commission representative, Margaritis Schinas, the Commission shall examine these documents to process urgently, so as to directly released the first EUR 30 million from the total EUR 450 million, which Greece is entitled for the management of the migration problem.
Moreover, Schinas said that the Greek authorities informed the Commission of their intention to send a formal request for the activation of the civil protection mechanism. “We had asked from the Greek side to do so earlier”, said the representative of the Commission.