NEWS

German border policy worries Greek officials

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A decision by the German government to tighten inspections along its border with Austria has fueled serious concerns in Athens as thousands of refugees and migrants continue to arrive on Greece’s islands from neighboring Turkey.

Greek government officials warn that the move could lead to the collapse of the country’s already problematic system of response to the migration crisis. Greek officials fear that, if the inspections in Germany remain in place, thousands of refugees and migrants could become “trapped” in Greece, Kathimerini understands.

An official service for the management of European Union subsidies for tackling immigration and asylum applications started operating on Monday, paving the way for the release of EU aid that Greece desperately needs to respond to a burgeoning migration crisis.

Greek authorities appealed for millions of euros in EU aid last week. But the establishment of an agency to manage those funds is a precondition for the disbursement of the aid. Once the funding is disbursed, it will be earmarked for the creation of new migrant reception facilities, the director of the new service, Giorgos Karatzoglou, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Monday.

His comments came a day after Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou heralded the creation of two new facilities, one in Attica and one in the Thessaloniki area. Thanou made the announcement during a visit to the Aegean island of Lesvos, which has been particularly overwhelmed by an influx of refugees and immigrants.

During her visit, coast guard officers were searching for survivors off the coast of another island in the Aegean, Farmakonisi, after a smuggling boat capsized in strong winds. Rescuers recovered 34 bodies, including those of 15 children.