As Greece continues to struggle to accommodate migrants arriving from Turkey despite a reduction in arrivals, the European Commission on Tuesday called for border controls imposed within the passport-free Schengen area because of the migrant crisis to be lifted by November.
“The time has come to take the last concrete steps to gradually return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area,” European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters.
“This will be the last prolongation.” Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-European Union member Norway introduced the controls in 2015 and have been permitted to extend them repeatedly.
Although a deal signed in March last year between Ankara and Brussels has curbed human trafficking across the Aegean, many of Greece’s islands are still struggling to shelter thousands of migrants.
The situation on Chios is said to be particularly tense, with reports of frequent brawls between migrants of different ethnic groups at the overcrowded main reception center. Another 116 migrants arrived on Chios between Monday morning and Tuesday morning.
In a related development, UNICEF and the Children’s Ombudsman gave a joint press conference on Tuesday, noting that 700 out of around 2,000 unaccompanied minors currently in Greece live outside migrant reception centers.