NEWS

New closed centers, 1,700 hirings to improve response to migration challenge

ARISTOTELIA PELONI, TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

TAGS: Migration, Politics

As part of its plans to implement a stricter legal framework regarding asylum and border controls, the government aims to create between six and 10 closed pre-departure centers and is planning to recruit 400 border guards in the Evros region, 500 new asylum officers on the islands and mainland, as well 800 officers to guard sea borders and the centers.

These pre-departure centers will hold migrants who are slated for deportation until their departure and will hold a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum in some cases of 10,000.

Kathimerini understands that it’s a matter of days before the final details of the government’s plan of action are announced.

Its fundamental aim is to tighten asylum rules and relieve pressure on overcongested camps on the islands in light of the recent spike in migrant/refugee flows to Greece. The plan will also seek to address reactions on the mainland against migrant transfers from the overcrowded island camps.

However, according to reports, the government will not be able to uphold its initial commitment to ensure that the populations at each center will not exceed 1 percent of the total local populations of the areas that host them.

Outlining his government’s plans, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told 13 regional governors in a meeting on Monday that he doesn’t want to “overmagnify the problem but not to underestimate it either.”

Under the government’s scheme, Mitsotakis said, regional authorities will be granted greater powers of oversight in the management of migration policy, depending on their performance in absorbing and utilizing European Union and state funds to this end. If regional authorities carry out their new responsibilities successfully, they will also be allotted a larger share of funding, he said. “I cannot do battle asking Europe for more solidarity when there’s no solidarity between us,” he told the governors. 

In an interview with Handelsblatt published yesterday, Mitsotakis described as “unacceptable” the Turkish Coast Guard's failure to react when informed by Greek officials that boats with migrants have left the Turkish coast. 

Meanwhile, a new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presented by Kathimerini shows that delays in examining asylum claims and the serious difficulties in the integration of migrants and refugees pose a risk that a “lost generation” will be created.

According to the report, from 2015 to 2018, about 1.9 million people were characterized as refugees in the EU, 80 percent of whom were under the age of 34, including 540,000 girls and young women. Most of them were seen as very likely to stay in Europe, and as the report points out, their potential must be harnessed otherwise they could be marginalized, with tragic consequences for themselves and their host countries. The report was based on interviews with more than 160 refugees and 400 workers in six countries hosting refugees – Greece, Italy, Austria, France, Germany and Sweden.

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