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#GreekGov acceptance of the No Way Out in #NorthAegean isles due to EU-Turkey deal causing repetititve resignations in Ministry of Migration

Mytilene, Lesvos, September 2015, 25.000 refugees in the port area awaiting the boat to Athens

The third consecutive resignation within seven months has sent, reportedly, the Secretary General for Migration Policy Mr. Vasilis Papadopoulos, denounces the situation in the Greek islands “with the ever growing concentration of migrant and refugee population”, following the example of the previous Secretary General Odysseas Voudouris who resigned nearly two months ago …..

Read more: Greek to me ! Newsblog article 

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Urgency for Actions, says the @UNHCR, while #EU barters humans to #TurkishBlackmail

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URGENT! Situation escalates warns the UNHCR

With increasing border restrictions across the Balkans, the UNHCR agency has early warned for the escalation of the situation into a humanitarian crisis similar to that on the Greek islands last autumn, and especially Lesvos .

Solving Europe’s refugees and migrants’ situation and preventing a new crisis in Greece (which has meanwhile occured, thoug, just in a few hours,  as soon as borders closed, after the 7th of March), requires a number of clear actions, Adrian Edwards,UNHCR spokesperson told a press briefing in Geneva.

 

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Emergency  Actions required

Among the most urgent of these actions when it comes to Greece is the need for

  • better contingency planning,
  • with increased accommodation capacity
  • and other support.

“The authorities are trying to respond now to prevent a further deterioration of conditions throughout Greece.

But, more resources and better coordination are critical for averting wider suffering and chaos,” Edwards stressed.

UNHCR is continuing to support the response operation and has set up field offices in eight locations and deployed additional staff including mobile emergency teams who quickly move to wherever the changing situation demands.

registration and asylum

UNHCR is urging the Greek authorities with the support of the European Asylum Support Office and EU Member States to strongly reinforce its capacity to register and process asylum seekers through the national asylum procedure, as well as through the European relocation scheme.

 safe pathways

In the overall management of the situation will also help, the UNHR has said,

  • Increased regular pathways for admission of refugees from countries neighbouring Syria
  • More resettlement and humanitarian admission,
  • family reunification,
  • private sponsorship, and
  • humanitarian and refugee student and work visas

UNHCR will convene an important conference on this topic in Geneva on 30 March and hopes for concrete offers in this regard.

All the above measures serve to reduce demand for people smuggling, onward movements, and dangerous boat journeys. They thus save lives.

UNHCR spokesman underlined.

relocation in question

” It should concern everyone that despite commitments to relocate 66,400 refugees from Greece, states have so far only pledged 1,539 spaces, and only 325 actual relocations have occurred,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards underlined.

Not a “Safe country ” is Turkey …

 

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The FIDH Worldwide Movement for Human Rights strongly condemned by an official Organization Press Release, the EU States’ and Governments’ decesion of March 7, along with the Trurkish Government, and called on the EU and its member States to stop trying to push migrants away at all costs, stop bartering migrants as goods, but create instead legal and safe channels including through increasing their unconditional resettlement capacities.

the cynical ‘migrant swap’

With the help of NATO, the EU will ‘return all new irregular migrants’ crossing the Aegean Sea to Turkey. Given that migrants reaching Europe are mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis in need of international protection, FIDH is worried that these people will not have access to a fair and effective asylum process

According to the plan, the EU would resettle a Syrian from Turkey for every Syrian returned to Turkey

The mere idea that the EU could condition resettlement of Syrians on Turkish willingness to readmit other Syrians is repulsive., codemns FIDH President, Karim Lahidji

‘The announced ‘migrant swap’ shows once again the EU complete lack of consideration for migrants’ dignity and rights. Do we have to remind the EU and Turkish leaders that they are not bartering goods but dealing with human beings, some of them in urgent need of protection? The mere idea that the EU could condition resettlement of Syrians on Turkish willingness to readmit other Syrians is repulsive.’

Karim Lahidji, FIDH president

According to EU Heads of State and Government, for this plan to be ‘legal’, Europe must grant a ‘safe country’ status to Turkey.

‘Under no circumstances can Turkey be considered a ‘safe country’ for migrants. The EU’s decision to turn a blind eye to the deteriorating human rights situation and the lack of an adequate asylum system does not mean it is a safe country. Refugees may be at risk of deportation, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. This decision only sadly shows that in order to outsource its responsibilities, the EU is caving in to Turkish blackmail using migrants as bargaining chips.’’

Geneviève Jacques, FIDH chargée de mission on migrants’ rights
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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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“Gigantic Effort” of Lesvos on #refugeescrisis should be matched by EU countires. UNHCR chief António Guterres

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UNHCR chief António Guterres witnessed the improved humanitarian response mounted by Greek local authorities and civil society while lamenting the continued lack of a large-scale and effective European response.

 

UNHCR has deployed an emergency team to Greece and now has some 120 staff in the country to support the government in its effort to address the continuing crisis. The island of Lesbos, with a population of 95,000 people, has received over 400.000 people in nine months 160,000 in September, and 15.000 in the last weekend alone.

Greece’s first so-called migrant hotspot on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos started operating last week .Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said on Saturday, adding that another four screening centers will follow on other islands.

He made the announcement during a press conference in Athens to present EU policy on migration and refugee relocation, along with European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.

Mouzalas said it was key that the EU “applies the same criteria for all countries.”

In his comments, Avramopoulos said that a total of 160,000 refugees will be distributed among the bloc’s non-border nations. He said guest countries would be decided by experts at EU-staffed hotspots, and not the refugees.

“No country can shoulder this burden on its own. Europe will offer money and know-how,” said Asselborn.

The EU has so far spent 33 million euros on dealing with the migration crisis, officials said.

Assessing conditions on the Greek island of Lesbos, the main landing spot for tens of thousands of people taking smuggler boats from the nearby Turkish coast, Guterres said

 “It is amazing that on a small island, you do respond, and you do manage this crisis, whereas in a big Europe with half a billion people, they are finding it so difficult to respond,”

Guterres told Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos and other Greek officials.

“We are always saying this crisis is manageable at the European level, but to be manageable, it needs to be much better managed.”

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Without a Europe-wide approach and an effective strategy in dealing with the influx, Guterres warned, criminal networks would continue to thrive. “When states are not able to organize the orderly movement of refugees, smugglers take charge, exploiting people further and adding to their suffering,” he added.

Describing his island as frontline, Mayor Galinos said:

“the main issue is not the numbers, but the lack of a European policy to respond.”

Nevertheless, he said, Greeks would continue to do whatever they could to address the crisis and combat smugglers, “who not only exploit the people, but who put their lives at continuous risk.”

“Above all, we are all human beings,” the Mayor added. “We must all recognize the position of these people because we might all find ourselves in this situation one day.”

 

What is a hotspot according to EU law?

The operational support provided under the Hotspot approach, will concentrate on

  • registration,
  • identification,
  • fingerprinting
  • and debriefing of asylum seekers,
  • as well as return operations.

 

Those claiming asylum will  be

immediately channelled into an asylum procedure

where EASO support teams will help to process asylum applications as quickly as possible.

For those who are not in need of protection,
Frontex will help Member States by coordinating the return of irregular migrants.
Europol and Eurojust will assist the host Member State with
investigations to dismantle smuggling and trafficking networks
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@tsipras_eu visiting Turkey, where also #G20 meeting on #Migration is being planned

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to visit Ankara on November 17 for talks that are expected to focus on the refugee crisis, as is already announced.

The decision for the visit came amid growing pressure on Greece to cooperate with neighboring Turkey. AlexisTsipras will conduct talks representing the EU, as Martin Schulz stated from Lesbos during his recent visit with the Greek Prime Minister, according to the local press reports. Turkey is the key transit country, Tsipras has repeatedly underlined, for refugees and migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

G20 request

Meanwhile, the European Union wants leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies to also help tackle a growing migration crisis when they meet in Turkey this month to discuss tax cooperation, trade and climate change.

EU Chairman Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker will push at the November 15-16 meeting for a global response to the challenge faced by Europe from the influx, Reuters reported.

In a letter by the two men to other EU leaders, they wrote: “Meeting in Turkey in the midst of a refugee crisis due to conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, the G20 must rise to the challenge and lead a coordinated and innovative response to the crisis that recognises its global nature and economic consequences and promotes greater international solidarity in protecting refugees.”

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Registration of refugees on the Turkish shores insists Greek govt

”Greece isn’t the point of entry” into the EU for refugees from Syria, the ”gate is Turkey, our neighbor”, Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras has stated on Wednesday Novembber 4th, at the ceremony for the reallocation of 30 refugees from Greece attended by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, EU Commissioner for migration and home affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn (rotating president of the EU Council)..

”The objective is to go from reallocations to resettlements”.

”The least dangerous solution” for refugees and ”the most effective” provides for a cooperation between the EU and Turkey ”so that the whole process of identification and reallocation begins along the Turkish coasts”.

The need to reach an agreement with Turkey that enables the creation of registration and identification points in the country for the resettlement of refugees in the European Union has been the definite thesis of Greece on the EU borders contro; issue, since the very first moment that the joint poatrols in Aegean scenario had been expressed.
“What happens in the Aegean is a crime that must be stopped,” the prime minister reiterated talking from Lesbos . “What is required is to come to an agreement with Turkey so as to reduce the flows by combating traffickers,” he added.

Go to our fully updated Hompage, #Empathy@Aegean

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Crossing dramas and meaning of life in Lesbos. All by a storm

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Just after the storm…

At the waterfront of Mytilini port. It’s Thursday morning.

A crummy Syrian pushes his wife’s wheelchair to the Square of Sappho, some meters nearby . (But it is possible they have been going 8 kilometers long to arrive here, after the risky crossing of the sea.)

She has one foot .The other has been lost by the bombings.

They are wet to the bone by the storm that has just stopped. It’s like they have not even noticed

They tell me how happy they are to be located here.

They want to go to Germany to relatives.

It took me some secs to wonder and realize, why I had been “not in the mood” this morning, while stepping out of the “luxury” of simply a house. Sure, I was worrying about my installments of the tax office, my installments on the loan, the installments of my life .

It’s sure we have lost the meaning of life, (our-Greek chapter lives, which we do experience with worries separated from the refugees’ drama, coexisting on this same isle) while these people next us unstoppably struggle to grab the thread of life by its hair…
I give them my umbrella and leave .

It s them, who show us the meaning of life. We don’t yet see …

Visit our Empathy@Aegean Page on greek2m.org 

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SCRIPT IN GREEK PUBLISHED BY BARBARA GIGILINI , A publisher, reporter and writer of POLITIKA, contributor journalist by the Greek to me team !, Lesbos island

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@tsipras_eu to Merkel: #Refugees screening should be done in Turkey, #Greece says no 2plans for joint #SeaPatrols 

the port of Lesbos rom the boat, by the Stauue of Liberty standing in the middle of the hundredts of tents of refugees staying there waiting for their ticket to Europe

the port of Lesbos from the boat, by the Statue of Liberty standing in the back and all around the hundreds of tents of refugees settled there waiting for their ticket to Europe

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coming closer to the port of destiny…

stepping out in the port of Mytiline that's what you see

stepping out in the port of Mytilini that’s what you see

Alexis Tsipras said officially NO to Angela Merkel talking on the phone on Wednesday October 14, hours before the European Council for Migration, and while Turkey had gladly said Yes to joint patrols of Greek and Turkish Naval and Coastguard Patrols in the Aegean.

Instead of that the Greek Prime Minister insisted to ask the identification screening procedure of migrants and refugees to be held on the Turkish coast, before the migrants make the journey of life-or-death that has lead to hundreds of drownings in the Aegean waters, and which make them pay to smugglers more than 2000 euros each.

This is a proposal officially first made by the official Lesbos’ Municipality Plan for the refugees crisis Response, by the Mayor of the island Spyros Galenos, who had already made diplomatic contacts with his counterparts in Turkey, and had found them positive so far, as the official document reports .

Jean Claude Junker had also officially received the proposal early enough, by late September, but had transposed the responsibility of   assessing it as a whole to the EU Commissioner of Migration, the Greek  Dimitris Avramopoulos, who has not answered so far and plans to visit Lesbos after the EU Council on October 15, as is announced.

But the mayor of Lesbos official presented the proposal to the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and the Austrian Chancellor Faymann on their visit to the island on October 6, and had analysed all the steps made so far, to make possible the solution of the identification procedures to be held on the Turkish coast . And this is what Alexis Tsipras openly and bravely chose to support , even though Jean Claude Junker openly asked the Greek part to say YES to joint patrols  After the NO of the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on public statements, while the scenario of joint patrols was still not formally presented to the Greek government, the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras openly repeated the NO to Angela Merkel , and immediately answered to her arguments for better safeguarding EU’s external borders by proposing the screening and identification procedures to be held on Turkish coast. What will be done, remains to be seen  not   Today is the critical meeting

Go to our Greek to me ! story on full details on this story , we have made full awareness early enough, based on Paris Karvounopoulos, the Defense reporter information about the common German and Turkish

Go to our main article by Greek to me !,

Joint Patrols in Aegean, -by EU blessings-, the trap of Turkey’s humanitarian guise

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Visit our special News section of Greek to me ! for Greece’s Armageddon Cross Roads on Greek to me Newsblog 

Greek to me ! Newsblog

find the news update on the eurobserver, as of Wednesday October14, 2015  Greece says no to plan for sea patrols with Turkey

Traveler’s Health Emergency Case in Greece  and the #humantsunami

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There is a War in Aegean! Watch Pharmakonisi, the latest unbearable tragedy

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“There is a war in Aegean, with human deaths” … The “hot incidents” between the Greek Coast Guard and the Turkish Coast Guard Command, the credible Military Affairs reporter Paris Karvounopoulos explains on onalert site, are numerous and at the same time serious as tens of human lives are lost

The latest tragedy in Pharmakonisi dramatically raises the death toll in the Aegean sea, Go on our latest Greek to me ! article .