Amid the recent surge in migrant flows to the islands of the eastern Aegean, the Greek coast guard has sent a new request – the second within three weeks – for additional assistance from Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, according to sources.
More specifically, Greece has asked Frontex to provide state-of-the-art monitoring equipment – mainly radars and thermal cameras.
In the meantime, the Greek coast guard has deployed more than 50 vessels and 1,300 officers in the Aegean as part of an operational plan by the Shipping Ministry that took effect last week.
Moreover, speaking to Kathimerini on the condition of anonymity, a senior government official revealed that European Union member states have also deployed 21 vessels, as well as aerial and land surveillance systems in the eastern Aegean.
These include an Israeli-made unmanned aircraft from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Meanwhile, Kathimerini understands that the head of the Greek coast guard, Stamatis Raptis, will travel to Ankara on Wednesday for talks with his Turkish counterpart. Ahead of the meeting, coast guard officials have liaised with the Greek Foreign Ministry.
According to Shipping Ministry officials, cooperation with Turkey is at an adequate level and this has led to the interception of a significant number of undocumented migrants before they leave the Turkish coast heading for Greece.
“On a daily basis, the Turkish coast guard intercepts or immobilizes between five and seven boats with refugees and migrants within its territorial waters,” a source told Kathimerini.
Nonetheless, Greek coast guard respond to an average of 30 incidents a day, meaning the rescue of 400 to 500 migrants.