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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-21

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Number of migrants and refugees in Greece exceeds 50,000 for the first time
  • [02] Turkish liaison officers arrive at island hotspots, as per EU-Turkey deal on refugees

  • [01] Number of migrants and refugees in Greece exceeds 50,000 for the first time

    The number of refugees and migrants in Greece exceeded 50,000 for the first time since the start of the crisis on Monday, according to the latest figures released by Greek authorities. The number of new arrivals spiked one day after the EU-Turkey agreement on migration came into effect.

    At the last count, the number of refugees and migrants throughout Greece was at 50,411 people, of whom 1,662 had arrived in the last 24 hours. Greek authorities viewed the spike in arrivals with concern, with the spokesman for the Greek refugee crisis management agency Giorgos Kyritsis pointing out that there must be a reduction in migration flows from Turkey in order for the agreement to work.

    A video conference call with all the officials involved in implementing the EU-Turkey agreement has taken place, with the participation of the European Commission's Coordinator for the refugee crisis in Greece Maarten Verwey and Greek defence ministry general secretary Yiannis Tafyllis.

    The Greek government is already proceeding to transfer refugees from the islands to the mainland and is seeking additional areas for their accommodation, including a site next to the shipyards in Skaramangas. Roughly half the refugees from the islands are being transported to the mainland, leaving 5,538 on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Rhodes.

    According to the latest figures announced by the Greek coordinating body for the refugee crisis, there are 13,711 refugees in Attica, with 5,132 staying at facilities within the port of Piraeus and the rest in official accommodation centres at Schisto, Elaionas, Elliniko, Agios Andreas, Malakasa and Lavrio.

    There are 2,569 in central Greece, most of whom at the Ritsona army base in Evia (826) and the Koutsochero army base in Larissa (766).

    Numbers have also risen at the makeshift camp at Idomeni, where 13,250 refugees and migrants are currently estimated to be camped, while another 1,250 are at the petrol station in Polykastro. The total number of refugees and migrants in northern Greece at present is 28,593, with 1,045 refugees have been installed for the first time at the old military airfield at Katsika, Ioannina since Sunday.

    [02] Turkish liaison officers arrive at island hotspots, as per EU-Turkey deal on refugees

    The Turkish officials that will act as liaison officers in the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on the refugee crisis arrived at the five hotspots on the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean on Monday, in accordance with the provisions of the agreement. Meanwhile, the transfer of Greek liaison officers to Turkey in order to monitor the returns has also begun, with the first five departing from Athens on Monday.

    A total of 25 Turkish officials that are not police officers but work for the Turkish interior ministry's migration service have arrived since Sunday, with six stationed on the island of Chios, eight on the island of Lesvos, five on the island of Samos, three on Leros and three in Kos.

    There was a problem with one of the officers on Chios, whose passport contained a stamp of the illegal regime in the occupied north of Cyprus and was thus rendered invalid, complicating the official's stay in Greece. Sources at the interior ministry told the ANA-MPA the matter was settled, with Greek authorities issuing and stamping a separate document giving the specific individual leave of entry into Greece, rather than the passport.

    This solution also sidestepped problems relating to whether the specific employee would need a visa, which he had not obtained as the holder of a "green" passport for government officials that normally don't need a visa to enter Greece.

    Three of the Greek police officers that left for Turkey on Monday will be stationed in Dikili opposite Lesvos and two in Cesme, opposite Chios. The Greek liaisons are police officers, since the issue of returns is handled by the police on the Greek side, and their total number will reach 25, as many as the Turkish officials in Greece. Their transfer to Turkey is expected to be completed by the end of the week, when Turkey informs the Greek side which ports will open to accept the refugees and migrants being returned.

    This is to be discussed on Wednesday, at a meeting with European Commission officials. With respect to the returns policy, a senior officer in the Hellenic Police said that readmission requests have already started to be drawn up for all the refugees and migrants, while any asylum applications will be examined using fast track procedures.


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