NEWS

Europol to send experts to Greek islands as refugee influx grows

A group of people who tried to breach the Greek border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are seen crossing a small river on their way back to a makeshift camp for refugees and migrants at the border near the village of Idomeni, on Thursday.

TAGS: Migration, EU

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, is to deploy 200 officers to refugee centers on the Greek islands and mainland next month to help identify potential terrorists.

The officers, specially trained experts in immigration and terrorism, will not be in charge of border protection but will examine individuals deemed to be suspicious.

After several weeks of reduced inflows of migrants from neighboring Turkey, Thursday saw an increase in arrivals with 130 people arriving on Greek shores in one day, amid growing concerns about the fate of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union to curb migration.

The total number of migrants in Greece on Thursday stood at 54,542, according to the spokesman for the government’s coordinating committee for refugees, Giorgos Kyritsis. Of this total, nearly 10,000 are living in squalid conditions at a makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni close to the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Kyritsis said the Idomeni camp would be evacuated but did not specify when. The situation at the camp is tense and local residents are running out of patience, with the head of the Idomeni community on Wednesday lodging a legal suit against Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas for a “complete absence of state control” at the camp.

Local communities on some of the islands at the forefront of the migrant influx are also losing patience. On Chios, which is currently hosting 2,332 migrants, and Lesvos, which has 4,287, overcrowding at reception centers frequently leads to escalating tensions.

Asylum processing on the islands is a lengthy procedure, with thousands of appeals pending. On Thursday 100 migrants whose asylum claims have been approved were taken by ferry from Lesvos to Piraeus.

European Migration and Home Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday denied reports of contingency plans for the creation of large refugee camps in Greece in the style of those currently in operation in Jordan and Lebanon.

Avramopoulos was answering a question submitted by PASOK MEP Nikos Androulakis about whether there are plans to set up camps on Greek islands in the event that the Turkey-EU migrant deal collapses.

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