It is considered dangerous to walk alone in the areas close to Greece’s hot spots and refugee camps, which are located all around Greece, and especialy in the North Aegean islands . Read the Guidelines of the alarming document sent officially by the Greek Mnistry of Defense to the Armed Forces personel on our Greek to me ! Newsblog article
Find this in our Special Page Aegean islands No Way Out
Go to our greek2m.org Newsblog article
The British paedophile imprisoned now in Greece, was torturing and raping young victims which he kept in the basement of his his villa in Crete. He was popular among local expat community though…
For the people in the tourist resort of Tavronitis, Douglas Barr was a retired rugby player and former pub owner, who relocated to Crete in 2007, in order to spend the later years of his life under the Greek sun. Burly and outgoing, the 56-year-old was in good terms with the members of the Brit expat community of the small town, always up for fun and games. Now this community is waking up to face the dark truth. Behind the friendly neighbour facade, was hiding a violent monster, a gun-obsessed rapist who locked and tortured children in the basement of his villa, the Mirror describes
It all unravelled when Barr was arrested in January last year following a dispute over a car crash he was involved in with a neighbour. After drunk-driving into the parked car of Florist Danai Dagunakis, 28, the man responded to her complains by threatening her with a gun. One of the witnesses recognised her assailant and decided to step up and confront him.
This led to another confession, made by another victim to one of Barr’s neighbours, who alerted the British consulate. Both testimonies were heard during the trial that ensued, describing how Barr locked the children in his dark basement lair, tortured them, shaved their heads and eybrows and repeatedly abused them.
“The psychological and physical violence against these children paints a picture of a villain which not even Charles Dickens could have imagined”, said the attorney presenting the case in court, who described Barr as “the definition of barbarity”.
It is understood the abuse stretched back a number of years. The allegations sparked an international investigation, which involved council officials in Leeds, where Barr and his wife Julie had previously lived, raising no concerns about his behaviour. However, according to the Leeds Council officials, an anonymous letter had been sent in August 2014, accusing Barr of the horrific actions; it was then passed to the Greek authorities for further investigation. The two countries have been co-investigating the case since.
Adding insult to injury, it was revealed In court that Barr – who had never played for the Leeds Rhinos, as he had claimed – was living off welfare, funding his lifestyle courtesy of British taxpayers. It was estimated that he could have been receiving up to £4,500 ($8,740) a month in benefits.
He was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in jail. He will serve in one of the toughest prisons in Greece, among fellow sex offenders, people traffickers and drug dealers. As a result of the ongoing financial crisis in Greece, prisons face severe cuts and the Grevena jail has become infamous in recent years for chronic overcrowding, food shortages and brutal prisoner beatings.
source: Mirror, Daily Mail, Neos Kosmos
According to the draft Council implementing decision that set the 50 points Recommendation for Greece to address deficiencies identified by the European Commission in the 2015 Schengen evaluation, vacationers on crusie ships or yachts should also be checked on the Aegean islands of Greece, among other measures on refugees identification and relocation proceedures.
Greece’s Urgent to-do List
The draft was leaked by Satewatch, the European civil liberties watchdog.These are some points :
irregular migrants not to be allowed to stay or enter EU countries
Greece should “clearly state in the documents of ‘suspension of removal’ which are provided to the irregular migrants during the registration process, that the document does not give the irregular migrant the right to stay and enter other member states, and include, where necessary, certain obligations aimed at avoiding the risk of absconding”, the paper reads.
illegal immigrants to be returned
The Council also asks Greece to immediately start the procedures for returning illegal immigrants who do not apply for asylum and are not in need of international protection, and rapidly transfer them to Turkey in accordance with the bilateral readmission agreement between Athens and Ankara.
Athens to safeguard surveillance on whole sea border
Athens is also asked to improve sea border surveillance by creating an integrated and effective coastal surveillance system covering the “whole” sea border between Greece and Turkey.
“The surveillance system should provide the possibility to detect all vessels, including small boats that are crossing the sea border from Turkey to Greece; in order to identify, detect and apprehend illegal border crossers, the system should be supported by an offshore element: offshore patrol boats and vessels, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and other means, as well as a sufficient number of land patrols on the island.”
first line border guards on alert
The recommendation also says that Greece should familiarise first line border guards with foreign terrorist fighters risk indicators, as well as consider cooperating with the Turkish border control authorities at the local level “as it exists at the land border with Turkey”.
checks on crusie ships and pleasure yachts
The recommendation provides for checks on cruise ships based on the crew and passenger list, and on pleasure yachts coming from third countries at a border crossing points
Since the end of January 2016, the European civil liberties watchdog Statewatch, had also released confidential documents revealing the European Union plans to criminalize charities and volunteers who help refugees arriving on Greek islands.
The documents revealed that EU interior ministers who met in Amsterdam on January 27, 2016 want to criminalize as “smugglers” charities, local people, volunteers and scores of international humanitarians who have traveled to Greece to help pull drowning refugees from the sea and feed and offer dry clothes as they land on Greek island, Euractiv wrote.
Instead, the Council wants to create a state-run mechanism that forces people to register and work under EU-sanctioned rescue and relief plans, added Euractiv
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, stated that
“The (European) Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who “register” with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to “register” to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.”
Right-wing Germany asking for shootings
Frauke Petry, leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper that Germany needed to reduce the influx through agreements with neighbouring Austria and a reinforcement of the EU’s external borders.
Deterrence includes the use of armed force ,Frauke Petry said
She said it should not be shy about turning people back and creating “border protection installations” – and that border guards should, if necessary, shoot at migrants trying to enter illegally.
Merkel’s promise to turn All refugees back
Mrs Merkel has said: “We need … to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once ISIS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained.”
Mrs Merkel said 70 per cent of the refugees who fled to Germany from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned.
She urged other European countries to offer more help “because the numbers need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in spring”.
Greek Minister :Nato will blow the smigglers networks
“[The smugglers] have used networks, infrastructure, the sea, and land roads through which they have been trafficking weapons, drugs, human trafficking, and cigarettes in the Mediterranean,”
Alternate Minister of Greecce’s International Affairs , Xydakis stressed today talking to the Euractiv.
Referring to NATO’s role in Aegean, Xydakis said: “We know that NATO’s military assistance will be a deterrence means, it cannot rescue but it can collect information and deal a blow to smugglers.”
Asked by EurActiv whether that could take place at sea, the Greek official said that operations should also take place in the coastal areas of Turkey.
“As long as Turkey is part of NATO, we believe that something positive could happen. We need to break the smugglers network.”
Europeanising the Hotspots
Belgian Interior Minister Theo Francken said that Greece “clearly lacks” the ability to handle the situation and that is why he called for the “Europeanisation of the hotspots in Greece.”
In essence, the Minister suggested that hotspots should act as a European waiting room, from where migrants that are not entitled to international protection (asylum) are returned to their country of origin.
Theo Francken for whom the Greek Migration Minister Mouzalas revealed that he told him to “drive them back into the sea; go against the law; I’m sorry, but I do not care if they drown.”
The EU Commission is to blame. Nothing was done 3-4 years ago
Europe is on the brink of collapse due to the “foolish and short-minded illusions” of EU member states, Gianni Pittella is the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) chief in the European Parliament said in an interview on Euractiv.
We are now facing the crumbling of Schengen, because nothing was done 3-4 years ago, when Greece and Italy were saving people from drowing in the Mediterranean, to the general indifference of all other member states. Having said this, we should all thank Greece for continuing to save thousands of refugees on an everyday basis, despite its difficult economic outlook. I do believe that Greek authorities must be helped concretely by Europe in order to fill gaps in the registration process. Again and again, selfish national rhetoric means that member states continue to look at the finger rather than the moon. Greece is not the problem.
The problem stems from the fact that the relocation system doesn’t work, nobody knows where to go, and who should pay, to return those who have no right for refugee status. The outdated Dublin system must be revised and Frontex has not yet started supporting member states in the control of external borders. Do we want to blame Greece for this? That’s a far too simplistic a response.
Honestly, the EU Commission has delivered here. Who is lagging behind? Who is not living up with the expectations? The member states.
Europe risks collapse as a result of the foolish and short minded illusion that we can face this problem by raising walls, closing borders, setting thresholds, discriminating on the basis of religion, or building a mini-Schengen.
Let’s start by penalising non-cooperation and rewarding those who cooperate.
“Schengen countries are just watching “, Mayor of Lesvos to CNN
But instead of financial support, the European Union is now slamming Greece, claiming that it has not acted properly to patrol the continent’s borders.aid Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos, talking recently to the CNN
“The Schengen countries are just watching this crime happening in the world and they didn’t take any action when it was happening”
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.
@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.
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.)
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
A 37-year old Iraqi who traveled from Istanbul to Athens with one of the false passports that were stolen by fighters of ISIS from Iraq, was arrested in El. Venizelos airport.
The 37-year old Iraqi , who lives in Athens and is married to Greek woman, argued that he received the disputed passport in Athens by mail, having sent only his a photograph of him to his cousin in Iraq, because since he could not go to Iraq himself to renew his passport , due to exit ban restrictions from Greece by which he had been charged in 2008, for human trafficking and the professional set up of criminal organization .
The whole batch of passports were stolen by jihadists from Iraqi citizens in Iraq. The police had received information from the Division of International Police Cooperation for the stolen passports, and as soon as the Iraqi’s passport was spotted, the man was arrested.
The Greek Police had been informed since the summer 2015, that a large number of vacant passports had been stolen by ISIS terrorists in the Iraqi province of Nineveh from the citizens they belonged to, during June, and that Iraqi authorities had canceled the whole batch of these passports in order to secure the entry of ISIS fighters to Europe.
The 37-year old who was arrested when he arrived from Constantinople with the morning flight, was working in an Athens restaurant and is also a co-owner, along with his two brothers, of a furniture manufacturing company based in Kurdistan.
He claim to the Greek that he visited Istanbul for a purchase of timber for his company, and also to meet his mother and one of his six sisters
Two days earlier, two terrorists carrying long knives and military uniforms arrested in Northern Greece with Swedish passports in suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
Since last August , 2015, the presence of ISIS has been a reality in the islands of Aegean, and has set the Greek Police on Error Alert. In the first days of September, in the city of Mytilene, Lesvos, as Greek to me had exclusively reported at least four ISIS suspects had been arrested. One of them had been referred to have been driving a car, playing ISIS music around the tents of the Syrian refugees in the city downtown. He was identified by an Iraqi refugee due to the symbolism of wolds, and special music tune “related to ISIS Propaganda songs”. The Iraqi refugee had notified the authorities, who spotted the ISIS suspect and arrested him.
The other three have been arrested by the Police, after being recognized by citizens, while they were walking around the waterfront of Mytilene city. The symbols of their blouzes have been recognized by local citizens, and Police was informed. They were arrested by the assistance of National Intelligence Agency.
Despite the vigilance the Greek Police has up to now tried to show for the ISIS entrance to Europe threat, the emergency response of the whole Western world finds Greece inadequate to secure from the terrorists the external borders and the EU Commission warned that Greece could face border controls with the rest of the passport-free Schengen area if it fails to act within three months.
The European Commission on Tuesday endorsed a damning report into Greece’s border controls that concluded: “Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations and there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities.”
The Commission wants Greece to boost staff numbers at its borders to better register migrants, and to step up checks of new arrivals’ details against Interpol and the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Greece has promised to use its military to oversee its response to the refugee crisis. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos heralded the opening of the Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration, to be headed by a senior military official.
The body will be based in the country’s Ministry of Defense and will monitor the creation of five “hot spots” for the processing of migrants on islands off the country’s mainland, as well as improving transportation of refugees within the country.
After the EE official warning to Greece for being pushed out of Schengen zone, the US Secretary of State John Kerry is said to have issued warning to Greece among four other European countries to clamp down on the fake passport trade or lose visa-free ESTA travel to America.
John Kerry issued warnings to Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Greece and gaven the five nations a deadline of February 1 to fix a ‘crucial loophole’, while he is said be most worried about Greece and Italy, the dailymail writes today.
Homeland Security’s Jen Johnson will report their progress to President Obama next week.
The US warnings come some hours after the EU governments warning to Greece that there would need to be unprecedented action against Greece if it failed to start playing by the Schengen rules.
A Wednesday’s warning from the commission, according to which Athens would be given three months to take “remedial action” to safeguard its place in the Schengen system, confirmed that.
The Germans, as well as several other EU countries taking in large numbers of migrants, have long been furious with the Greeks for allegedly simply waving the new arrivals through without registration and ID checks and setting them on the Balkan route towards the Central and North European countries,mainly Germany ad Austria .
In recent days, Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has called for Greece to be walled off from the rest of Europe – or at least from Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the next step along the migration trail towards Germany.
Orbán wants the EU to expand an existing fence around the Greek border town of Idomeni along the entire length of the Greece-FYROM border, just as Hungary walled off its own border in September.
What Greece is been accused of
“There is no effective identification and registration of irregular migrants,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, a commission vice-president.
“Fingerprints are not being entered systematically into the system, travel documents are not being systematically checked for authenticity or against crucial security databases.”
Dombrovskis said that a secret EU mission to Greece in November had concluded that Athens was avoiding the Schengen rules on several fronts.
On the same moment, US concerns were raised to peak recently, after the passport of ‘Ahmad Almohammad’ was found at the Paris Stade de France terror attack.
the EU Warning in draft
The warning from the EU commission came in the form of a draft report on Greece’s performance, but has to be endorsed by a qualified majority of EU governments. The commission would then give Athens three months to take “remedial action” to safeguard its place in the Schengen system.
At the same time EU governments, with the commission’s support, are acting to increase border controls at Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border with northern Greece, which would end up to many thousands of refugees being kettled in Greece.
“The solution passes through Turkey, and also through the better cooperation of European Partners on the epimerization of the burden”,
said Alexis Tsipras on Thursday from Israel where he is for official visit .
Athens responded since the first moments robustly to the EU criticism, claiming that the draft evaluation report had been conducted at a time when the situation on the ground was different to the one prevailing two and a half months later.
The Greek foreign ministry released statistics on Wednesday showing that 90% of the new arrivals last year were from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, most of whom would routinely qualify for refugee status, but on the contrary, the commission presented data this week that 60% of those entering the EU currently were “economic migrants” who were not fleeing war and not in need of protection and should be deported, wrote the Irish Times .
Greece straightly blamed Turkey’s failure to honour the deal it struck with the EU in November.
the Europe’s No Help
“Europe has shortchanged Greece by providing smaller-than-promised numbers of everything, from cots and fingerprinting machines to border guards. “
as Ioannis Mouzalas said on Monday Jan 25 to the international and Greek press after the EU meeting Amsterdam
“Since May Greece has persistently been asking for technical, technological and staffing help, and what it has received from Europe is far less than what was asked for,” Greek Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis had openly warned, since December 5 2015, talking to the told The Associated Press in an interview.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, last week, during his meeting with his German counterpart Steinmeier said that Frontex should deploy about 100 boats in the narrow stretch of water separating Greece from Turkey, the main launching pad for 850,000 refugees and migrants who reached Greece’s shores last year.
Diplomacy doubts the wall solution
A supporter of Greece’s proposal
Gerald Knaus, a former diplomat and the chairman of the European Stability Initiative, an influential European think tank said to the Guardian:
“In the end, people will still get through. Anyone already in Greece will not turn back to Turkey.”
It is impossible, Knaus points out, to stop people reaching the Greek islands from Turkey. Once in Greece, it will also be hard to contain them – and even if it were possible, Greece does not have the resources to care for them.
The only way out is to persuade Turkey to take back asylum seekers who reach Greece by boat, and as a quid pro quo, for Germany to formally resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees directly from Turkey. This would not prevent refugees from reaching Europe. But it would allow the continent to manage their arrivals better, decide who comes and when, and know who they are before they arrive.
“I’m convinced that a lot of people just don’t understand the basic issues,” Knaus said. “Whatever they say, you can’t close the Aegean border.”
- Visit our 24/7 update coverage by Greek2m on How all this started , and more
- Read our Related Greek to me ! News story by September 2015
Greek Immigration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas has angrily blamed European Union member states for failing to send Athens enough manpower and ships to help it tackle the migrant crisis and for not living up to pledges to relocate migrants, New Europe wrote .
Mouzalas told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting in Amsterdam that sending officers from the EU border protection force known as Frontex to neighbouring Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia in an attempt to halt migrants there would be illegal.
It has been suggested that EU border guards would be more effective on the Greek-Macedonian border, but Mouzalas said
sending them there is “not a good idea,” insisting: “We need Frontex in Greece.”
Mouzalas says Greece is doing all it can to protect its sea borders from boatloads of migrants heading from Turkey to nearby Greek islands, but has not been sufficiently helped by fellow EU members.
He says Athens wanted 1,800 Frontex officers, but has got only 800, the international Press wrote.
@NikosKotzias The Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, asked his German counterpart for 100 FRONEX vessels, and proposed Fronex to readmit those migrants that are not entitled to asylum, to Turkey, after their identification in Greece .
The minister said Frontex should deploy about 100 boats in the narrow stretch of water separating Greece from Turkey, the main launching pad for 850,000 refugees and migrants who reached Greece’s shores last year.
AP, Reuters, New Europe