European officials are expected to start arriving in Greece next week to help put into action the refugee plan agreed at last week’s summit with Turkey in Brussels.
The first of some 2,500 personnel from other European Union countries is expected from March 28. The EU’s border agency, Frontex, asked member-states and Schengen associated countries on Monday to provide 1,500 police officers and 50 return and readmission experts to support Greece in returning migrants to Turkey. Frontex currently has 734 personnel in Greece.
“It is important to stress that Frontex can only return people once the Greek authorities have thoroughly analyzed each individual case and issued a final return decision,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri. “The return of those who do not have the right to international protection will proceed in full compliance with EU and international law.”
However, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced that it is scaling back its assistance. It said that it would no longer transfer refugees and migrants who arrive on Lesvos to the Moria camp as it has now become a closed facility.
The UNHCR also expressed concern that the EU and Greek authorities are rushing into the implementation of the agreement with Turkey, which will see refugees and migrants returned to Turkey, from where other refugees will be resettled directly.
“The Greek state lacks the necessary capacity to assess large numbers of asylum claims and needs to be reinforced,” said UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov, who added that support from the EU is needed.