More than a third of migrants not fingerprinted, officials say

More than a third of migrants not fingerprinted, officials say

The process of identifying undocumented migrants who have been arriving by the thousands on islands in the eastern Aegean from Turkey is far from efficient with authorities securing the fingerprints of only 30 or 40 percent of those traveling on to the Greek mainland, Kathimerini understands.

As part of efforts to decongest overburdened islands, Greek authorities have been registering the personal details of thousands of migrants arriving on Lesvos, Kos and other islands. But they lack the equipment to fingerprint the migrants, who are issued with documents and instructed to visit the Aliens Bureau in Athens on their arrival.

More than a third issued with papers on the islands fail to visit the bureau, however, Greek Police (ELAS) sources told Kathimerini. It is thought the majority continue their journeys further into Europe.

There are fears that the gaps in the procedure could mean that some individuals who are wanted internationally might be slipping through the net.

In comments to Kathimerini, one official indicated that most Syrian refugees are being satisfactorily registered on the islands. Eight in 10 refugees arriving from Syria have official documents with them, he said.

Late on Wednesday night a ferry carrying 1,700 Syrians left Lesvos for Piraeus. Some confusion had preceded its departure as local authorities had originally indicated that the ferry would dock at Thessaloniki.

The news came as a shock to government officials who had been meeting on Wednesday with European Commissioner for Home Affairs and Immigration Dimitris Avramopoulos and who knew nothing about such plans.

There have been suggestions, particularly from right-wing politicians, that the migrants be taken to Thessaloniki and Kavala, which are close to the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Eventually, ELAS officials notified authorities on Lesvos that the ferry would be going to Piraeus.

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