Greece bracing for new Evros crisis

Greece bracing for new Evros crisis

Anticipating a possible surge in migrants from the Turkish side of Greece’s northeastern border, the leadership of the Hellenic Police (ELAS) has decided to strengthen the area’s defenses with the mobilization of additional forces.

Kathimerini understands that 14 riot units from across the country will move to the Evros border on Thursday in a mobilization similar to that in March, when the crisis with Turkey was in full swing. The units will prop up forces in Kastanies and further south, in Feres – the two border areas that have faced the most pressure.

ELAS has also requested the transfer to Evros of an additional 125 police officers from various services around Greece to strengthen border patrols and prevent a “new possible mass entry of migrants.”

A Civil Protection Ministry spokesperson told Kathimerini “the new movement of forces to Evros was deemed necessary because the recruitment of 400 new border guards to strengthen local services has been delayed due to the pandemic.”

The spokesman and ELAS officials disassociated the move with recent tension between Greece and Turkey, stressing that it is a precaution to prevent a possible surprise.

However, a fortnight ago, Greece requested that 100 Frontex border guards that are part of the Rapid Border Intervention Team remain in the country until July. The request, which was accepted, relied on estimates of increased flows after Ramadan and the lifting of the lockdown in Turkey. 

Meanwhile, authorities are concerned about the prospects of some 11,000 refugees who have been granted asylum but many of whom are still living in subsidized hotels or apartments, as those accommodation programs are set to end in the coming months and it remains unclear where these people will go.

The key problem is that the response to the refugee crisis has focused on boosting reception capabilities and the processing of asylum claims and little has been done for the social inclusion of migrants who are granted asylum. 

It is thought that some refugees obliged to move out of subsidized accommodation will leave Greece. But there are fears that many others might end up on the street.

Some 6,500 refugees are currently living in subsidized apartments or hotels, another 2,500 are in reception facilities on the mainland and 1,500 are still living in island camps despite having secured asylum.

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