Germany furious with Times report presenting facts that ex Greek government sent Syrian refugees to central Europe, under “secret deals”

The Times revealed Tuesday, February 24, that Mr. Samaras’ government made a secret deal with a group of Syrian refugees in December offering them official residency papers and travel documents in return for information on people-smuggling gangs. About 200 people have so far been issued with the documents, and most have since left to claim asylum in other EU states.

Syrians who managed to reach Greece have told the Times of London newspaper that they convinced Athens to provide them with official residency papers. Once they had these, they were able to book flights to northern European countries more generous to migrants.

“The arrangement suited both parties, it is alleged. The Syrians did not want to settle in Greece, because the economy was in crisis and there were few jobs. Unlike Germany, it does not promote a policy of family reunification, where migrants can bring relatives to live with them once they are settled.”

Germany’s politicians reacted with fury, The Times said.

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How it started

About 840 Syrians took part in a 24-day sit-in protest in Athens demanding the right to travel to other European countries. They were initially told that they would have to claim asylum in Greece.

Later, the government quietly reversed its position and told them that they would receive the documents that recognised them as legitimate asylum seekers in Greece. They received two sets of papers: a Greek residency pass and Greek travel documents.

With official Greek residency papers, Syrians have been able to book a flight to Germany, rip their papers up during the flight and claim asylum once they land in Germany.

Under EU law, asylum seekers must remain in the first country they arrive in and can be deported back to that country if they travel to other member states.

However, countries that are popular with migrants, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, cannot send the newcomers back to Greece because deportations to the cash-strapped country have been suspended since 2011 to help it cope with its own problems.Last month Germany extended its suspension on sending asylum seekers back to Greece by another year. 

Abu Obei, one of the organisers of the Syrian demonstration, said: “When we started protesting in late November, the government [told us] that our only option was to claim asylum in Greece. But after 24 days a member of the government came to us and said we could work out a deal.”

“Refugees come to Greece as a transit point,” said Ahmed, a Syrian who has been in Greece for almost a year after crossing illegally from Turkey. “They want to travel on from here, so the thing everyone wants to avoid is having their fingerprints taken. If that happens, they can be deported back to Greece.”

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Yannis Panousis, the new Greek minister of the interior, said that he was unaware of any sh uch deal, but pledged to investigate the claims.

Greek to me ! has early raised the story of governmental papers provided under “unknown status” to “unkown status immigrants” that cross seas and find themselves in Greece on search of a better life.
Last summer, since June 2014, Greek to me ! exclusive story of immigrants , unknown if ever were medically checked-during the error Ebola days-  were travelling by the approval of the ex Greek government to unkown destinations, but by papers issued by the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Greece, has raised flag for the travellers’ health safety .
An official question by the Independent Greeks ex- MP Vassilis Kapernaros was made on Parliament, but no answer was given.
Greek to me ! brought the story back again on late December 2014, by the Norman Atlantic Disaster, were, as it was revealed, an unknown number of immigrants were travelling by the ferry, -which might be close to 200, according to the Italian Prosecutor- for which the Greek government never said a word .
Go to our Greek to me Pages,   and stay 24/7  informed for the Cross-Road Greece
The Greek to me ! team
Source: the Times

Greek Ferry disaster: “And the sharks ate the passengers . Nine or two hundred, we don’t know…”.

The relatives of the lost up to now passengers of Norman Atlantic are day by day crying in agony, two weeks+, now,  after the disaster, without having from the authorities a word .Talking on the Greek media, and -trying still to keep their hope alive-, they describe how each family of them , tryied to follow up the movements of their beloved ones,  and how unexplainably, their relative’s traces were lost. Some families believe their relative might be in a hospital in Italy, and nobodyof them can accept that uncountable numbers of bodies are not found .

Greece today announced that the missing people are only nine( !) while ,the last week this number was 19. No explanations are given. Meanwhile, the Greek media reproduce the recent Italian authorities’ quote, that missing passengers might have disappeared because they might have been eaten by the sharks …

Autopsies will be carried out in the presence of a marine biologist after investigators said at least one of the nine bodies recovered from the sea presented with wounds resembling shark bites, the reports said.

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Day to day, filled up with pain and horror for the unthinkable accident, relatives almost re-experience the horrible hours on that ferry, where help was not there, alarms had not been ringing, and lots, and lots of people were mysteriously lost.

About 43 passengers from the Norman Atlantic who arrived in the Greek capital as survivors, described fighting in dispair to escape form the live hell :caught among flames, pelting rain and passengers who fought others to be rescued”, wrote the The Associated Press

The death toll from the ferry fire remains officially still ,11 persons that are announced.

Since the first moments of the Rescue Operation, the unaccounted lives- bodies- persons- and- souls, vary from 9 , that the Greek authorities announced today, January 13, to 98 that the Italian prosecutor had in Italy announced on December 29, and also to the nr. of 179, as also Italian Prosecutor Volpe appears by the Italian media have said at the first hours of the disaster.

It is still not clear whether the people missing had drowned, or whether they had failed to board the ferry, or burned in the ship helpless.

  •  The official statements by Greece

In Greece, the story about the floating flaming ditch is presented officially by the Ministers of Maritime and of Defense, since the early first day, by these points;

eleven deaths-ninteen/nine  missing-
very bad communication with Italy,
very bad weather to look for answers,
and,,, also, a confessed by Greek and Italian authorities possibility of these “unidentified” persons on the lists to be “just immigrants” that boarded simply illegally…..”

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  • the immigrants

It is still unclear how many people, including illegal immigrants, had boarded without being recorded.
The Italian prosecutor investigating the case, said Afghan stowaways were among the survivors who were rescued.

“Given that the ship was indisputably carrying illegal migrants who were probably hidden in the hold, we fear that we’ll find more dead people once we recover the wreck,” prosecutor Giuseppe Volpe said.

A Greek survivor who talked on Italian and Greek TV, said he had been in the garage area, where the immigrants were quite a lot .At least 5, he said, was the number he had seen , “moving like shadows” . But he also stated, the immigrants were lighting fire in the garage to warm up, since the temperature in there was very low .

  • Fire in the garage, say the survivors

It seems possible that the fire could have start in the garage, if the survivors’ testimony come true, since there were trucks carrying oil on board, as some of the passengers have said. But no definite statement or discussion is further made on that, also, by the authorities in Greece so far. Fears are, no news are going to be heard as the national elections ( Jan.25), come close.

Reports from the authorities on Patras port say the Safety Control that took place 9 days before the fatal trip, had been alarming for the fire doors that were not working properly, and this, according to marine engineers, is considered the most serious factor that le the fire to spread to the entire ship .

                        SURVIVER

  •  Rescue operation in question

The rescue operation was also conducted amid considerable danger and panic. Rescued passengers said the crew on board was unable to cope.

Captain Giacomazzi appeared on his testimony to insist that “all safety procedures were respected” –which sharply diverges from the testimony of survivors, who said that passengers fought to be rescued and that the crew were nowhere to be seen as the blaze spread out of control.

They said they received no instructions from crew members, that no alarm was given and that the deck of the ship became so hot that their shoes started melting.

Ute Kilger, a passenger from Munich, described how she saw a middle-aged man shove past women, children and the elderly to ensure he was winched to safety by a helicopter before them.
“He just went and sat in the basket, which was clearly designed for children. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” the 45-year-old lawyer told Italian media “I was finally finally lucky, I was saved after nearly 24 hours. This is a long time to fill with hope and with fear that you will die.”

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  • At the end of the Day , is it safe to carry unknown number of unknown immigrants on an international passengers’ ferry line, in the womb of Europe ?

It would be ideal for any of the authorities ,in charge in Greece today for the immigration and trafficking through the country, (let’s say for the Ministries of Internal Affairs, of Maritime , and of Health, and for all the Departments and organizations of the Greek state for Safety), to be in the position to say that all immigrants in the country are checked at the entrance points and medically screened .

At least, this is what reports from the islands say, and what the Urgent Circulates that where sent to all ports of the country, and to all the immigrants’ entry points, by the Greek Center of Disease Control ( HCDCP) in Octob.2014, show . By the circulates which emphasize on the Guidelines for the shield of the country for communicative diseases and especially Ebola,

Maritime Companies should be aware and vigilant on protecting the health of the passengers, and should be on the alert for any possible symptoms associated with Ebola infection, especially in cases of passengers that might have visited Ebola affected areas

the Coast Guard, the Greek Police, border guards and all the personnel involved in the procedures of the management of the illegal immigrants newcomers are informed for all  the preventive measures that are required, by clear and simple instructions,, primarily for the direct identification of the origin country of the incoming immigrants, and also for the necessity of making obligatory the immediate medical evaluation.….

As Greek to me first exclusively has revealed, since early summer 2014, it has been a common practice for over seven months now, to let immigrants from the Aegean islands travel on commercial lines by the ferries to Athens, where they are allowed to stay for one month.

As anyone can easily guess , the trip from Patras to Italy by the ferry , is just the next piece of the trafficking road to the rest of Europe.
By the Norman Atlantic disaster, one of the tragic elements of the story that came to light is for sure.

Immigrants frequently travel that way and usualy are  unidentified and unknown. In numbers, place of origin and, of course, names.

Is that proper, in the womb of Europe ?

The Emergency Response Measures and Guidelines of the Greek CDC for the illicit immigrants’ Entrance Points and Reception Centers in Greece

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The Circular
Updated guidelines for the prevention of Ebola virus at the entrance points of the illegal immigrants in Greece has set the New Circular released by the General Secretary of Public Health, that is addressed to the staff of all the First Reception Centers and the Immigrants’ Detention Centers , the Coast Guard, the Greek Police, border guards and all the personnel involved in the procedures of the management of the illegal immigrants newcomers .
By the Circular, they’re described in detail all the preventive measures that are required, by clear and simple instructions,, primarily for the direct identification of the origin country of the incoming immigrants, and also for the necessity of making obligatory the immediate medical evaluation.

The Medical Screening Teams in the Detention Centers and the First Reception Centers, are required to complete a Screening Sheet with the travel history of the new coming immigrants , IN DETAIL, from the immigrants’ origin countries, and down the routes of trafficking that brought them to Greece. By this procedure any immigrants that might derive from West Africa .it is obligatory to be tracked

In case migrants have to be put into compulsory attendance for 21 days, the Medical Screening Team is asked to send daily to the Greek Center of Disease Control, (HCDCP/KEELPNO) a completed special form for the “Daily Statement of New Entrants Persons Affected countries. “

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• Special Training and education Program

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A special Training, Information and Education Program is carried step by step and to all the Aegean islands and the border areas as to urgently shield biologically the the country from Ebola virus

The intensive Program which has started since the mid of October , is implemented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP) at the entrance gates of the country,
with particular emphasis on the North Aegean islands, Dodecanese and Evros, where mostly illegal immigrants arrive. These days the Program is taking place at Rhodes island, the premier arrival point in terms of numbers , since the summer months of 2014.

The Greek CDC (HCDCP) stressed in a statement that, the information and training of the existing staff at the entrance points of illegal immigrants and the Detention Centers is considered essential for the preparation and shielding of the country from possible Ebola case introduction involiving all the staff of the Immigration, Citizenship and Identity Centers, the, Security Forces (Police, Coast Guards) , Regional Asylum Offices, Border Guard Service, as well as health professionals involved in the reception, management and treatment of new entrants people without legal documents.

Below is the Program of the Training and Information with indicative dates as it is developed and organized by the General Directors’ and the Presidents’ office of the Greek CDC by the Zoonoses Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention Office of the Greek CDC( HCDCP/ KEELPNO), and is implemented with the cooperation of local stakeholders
1. Region of Northern Aegean (EE Lesvos and Lemnos, Samos and Ikaria EE, EE Chios)
On 11/18/2014:
• GN Mytilene “Vostaneio”

• Health Centers Antissa, Kalloni Plomariou, Polichnitou,

• First Reception Centre Lesvos
• Identification Center of Lesvos Greek Police
• Central Port of Mytilene
• Police Department Lesbos
• Regional Office Asylum Lesbos

On 19/11/2014

• Samos General Hospital “Agios Panteleimon”
• Health Center Karlobasioy
• First Reception Centre Samos
• Central Port Samos
• Police Department Samos
• Center for Immigration Citizenship and Identity Greek Police Samos

On 21/11/2014

• Skylitseio General Hospital of Chios
• Health Center Pyrgi
• Central Port of Chios
• Police Department Chios
• Center for Immigration Citizenship and Identity Greek Police Chios

On 25/11/2014
• G.N.- Health Center Lemnos
• Port Myrinas- Lemnos
• Police Directorate Limnos

On 11/27/2014
• General Hospital – Health Center Ikaria
• Health Center Evdilos
• Central Port Ikaria
• Police Department Ikaria
2. Regional Section Evros

On 11/24/2014
• University Hospital of Alexandroupolis
• 216 KICHNE Alexandroupolis
• Centre for Health Feron
• Regional Office for Southern Evros Asylum
• Police Directorate of Alexandroupolis
• Border Guard Services of Lucky and Feron

On 26/11/2014
• General Hospital Didymoteichou
• 219 KICHNE Didymoteichou
• Health Centers Soufliou, Orestiadas, Righteous
• First Reception Centre Orestiadas
• Police Department Orestiadas
• Center for Immigration Citizenship and Identity Greek Police Ebro
• Border Guard Services Didymoteichon Orestiadas, silk, Carp, New Vissa
3. Regional Section Dodecanese:

On 12/02/2014
• General Hospital of Rhodes
• Health Centers and Archangel Emponas
• Regional Office Asylum Rhodes
• Police Directorate Rhodes
• Central Port of Rhodes

On 12/03/2014
• Vouvaleio General Hospital – Health Center Kalymnos
• Police Department Kalymnos
• Central Port of Kalymnos

On 04/12/2014
• State Hospital – Health Center Leros
• Police Department Leros
• Central Port Leros

On 08/12/2014
• General Hospital – Health Center Kos
• Health Center Antimahias
• Police Department Kos
• Central Port CosAegean ditch

Ebola Preparedeness on the Alert in Greece, Epidemic Risk for the Country considered still small .

Isolated building has been prepared to ‘host’, as appropriate, virus outbreaks
A fully ecquiped Isolation Intensive Unit has been set on the Alert on Amalia Fleming Hospital in Athens Greece, to host any possible Ebola cases that might appear in Greece.
Contrary to the devastated Public Health Sector, and the Public Hospitals in Greece that are hit hard by the austeriy measures, the Emergency Preparedeness for Infectious Diseases in the country remains on top scientific international level, and top priority for the Greek Health authorities, coordinated by the Greek CDC, as to better protect the Global Health village . This, in Greece, has a historical background and a

Moreover, the group of health workers who will face the potential Ebola cases in Greece has been defined, and health workers are continiously trainned by day-to-day scientific updation as to better respond on possible cases handling, and better prevent any further infections

Scientific Guidance for health professionals have been issued by the Greek CDC (HCDCP) since the early days of August,and also Ebola protection Guidelines for Travelers of international flights and especially for Travellers to and from the infected Countries.
The President of the Greek CDC (HCDCP) Tzeni Kremastinou has seriously taken into consideration the Alert and Error level of the Ebola outbreak, as to early and straight address the risks to the public, and and has coordinated since July a special team of experienced professionals for the Emergency Response. Despite the seriousness of the Disease and the hard conditions of the Greek Pubic Health System the president of the Greek CDC has expressed her confidence that if any Ebola cases enter the country, they will be handled medically adequate at most .

Up to now, three cases in Greece have been identified as suspected, but have been later proved to be malaria infections and not Ebola, all of them concerning foreign travelers. Two of them, men, had recently traveled to Lagos Nigeria, and the third one was of a woman with recent travel history to Congo . Relatives of all three cases have been adequately traced before the final negative to Ebola/positive to malaria results, assured the Chief in Emergency Response for Ebola of the Greek CDC, Professor of Infectious Diseases, Sotiris Tsiodras
By the latest and continuous risk assessments of the international health organizations,
Greece’s risk for Ebola epidemic is characterized so far as small, due, mainly, to the lack of direct flights to and from the countries where the disease is endemic.