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3 billion $ paid for refugees by #Greece, which might be out of #Schengen anyway, @PanosKammenos, @imouzalas

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Possible the Out of Schengen scenario, anyway

“Europe might close the Borders to Greece, even after the country’s commitments are fulfilled” ,  Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said in a tv interview on Monday evening, adding that “they don’t hear us in Europe!” , referring to the EU-Greece talks on European and Greece’s external Borders protection.

Commitments will be fulfilled by the deadlines

Earlier on Monday the Greek Defence Minister had reassured that “Greece will fulfill its commitments,” stating that all five “hot spots”for the refugees/migrants entrance screening and  identification will be ready on the Greek islands in less than a week.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos discussed in detail on a press briefing in Athens on Monday the construction work that is underway in old military camps since late January by the Greek Army, and assured that all five hotspots will be ready on February 15, the deadline agreed with the European partners and Angela Merkel .

The cost of supporting the incoming refugees and migrants over the past two years and a half has reached 2.7 billion euros(3.02 billion US dollars) for Greece, according to Panos Kammenos.

Greece requests more help from European partners and neighboring countries to face the huge refugee crisis challenge, as the debt laden country is threatened by the EU with an expulsion from the Schengen passport free travel zone, and while refugees continue to arrive in thousands day to day on the Aegean islands’ shores,  despite bad weather and the cold waters of winter time.

The Greek Defence Minister stressed also that two relocation centers on the mainland will be ready by the deadline, despite protests from local communities. Hundreds have angrily protested on the streets of Kos island, as well as the Piraeus suburb of Keratsini and a district in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where the two relocation centers will be set up.

Kammenos said that the government is open to dialogue, but there is no time for lengthy discussions, he emphasised, as people are dying in the Aegean Sea and survivors need aid with no more delays. According to the government, all the “hot spots” are temporary structures.

Cabinet ministers , who are obliged, by all means on the moment, to act “under emergency” to protect Greece’s Borders, have dismissed the three local communities’ reactions,  as “xenophobic outbreaks” by a minority of locals, while the vast majority of residents of the border islands have shown a total different face, trying to give, all of them, a helping hand .

Indeed, among protesters at Keratsini on Monday were ultra-Right Golden Dawn party MPs and members, but in several cases demonstrators have rejected any affiliation with the party.

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@imouzalas: Real the out-of-Schengen threat

Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas being interviewed by Nikos Xatzinikolaou on Star TV late on Monday, did not rule out possible negative acts on the part of Europe

“They can even close the borders although Greece meets its commitments.”, he said openly

Mouzalas summed up the national policy for the refugees to:

  • the identification centers to be ready and adequately staffed,
  • creating relocation centers for refugees and asylum seekers,
  • and temporary centers.
  • Moreover, Greece is asking a safe corridor for refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and immediate readmission to Turkey of those not seeking asylum or refuse voluntary return.

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Children unaccompanied

Greece’s Alternate Interior Minister, during his interview to Nikos Hatzinikolaou on star tv, also referred to the issue of unaccompanied children saying that “we are lagging significantly behind.”

To address that issue, he said that a committee composed by the ministry, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has been set up.

The Europol police agency had warned on January 31 that young people arriving alone were particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking.

More than 10,000 unaccompanied children registered after arriving in Europe over the past 18 months to two years had disappeared, the EU’s law enforcement agency said.

  • «Children currently account for 36 per cent of those risking the treacherous sea crossing between Greece and Turkey,» the Unicef spokeswoman Sarah Crowe has also said.
  • «Children and women on the move now make up nearly 60 per cent» of those entering from Macedonia, she added.

(The figures mark a significant shift since June, when 73 per cent of migrants were adult males and only one in 10 were under the age of 18.)

 Marie Pierre Poirier, Unicef’s special coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, said women and children were even more vulnerable to the dangers of trying to travel to Europe.

 

Speaking to AFP on Monday, UNICEF’s Crowe said European mechanisms for protecting children had not worked.

This «is really a failure of child protection systems across the region», she said.

«Procedures need to be a lot faster and children need to be part of that process so they don’t fall through the cracks and they do not fall prey to smugglers and traffickers.»

Black Market on the islands

During the Press briefing on Monday February 8, Minister Kammenos also denounced “the flourishing of a black market on the islands in recent months.”

“A minority of locals has reportedly exploited the needy refugees, overcharging products and services, as long as the assistance from the state mechanism is insufficient, he said. To the moment, complete and ready, adequately functioning is only one “hot spot”that  is running so far, and that’s on Lesvos island.

A total of 960,000 refugees entered Greece via Turkey on their way to other European countries since early 2015, according to the latest official data.

Find more about the Borders of the West on our full coverage updated Homepage by greek2m.org

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