NEWS

Army, navy join migrant drive

The government has decided to mobilize navy and army forces in a bid to regulate a growing influx of illegal immigrants, Kathimerini has learned. Top officials from four different ministries, as well as from the police force, army and navy, reportedly agreed on the need for additional measures to tackle a burgeoning population of illegal immigrants arriving in Greece, chiefly through the country’s land and sea borders. Officials attending the emergency meeting, chaired by Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, also decided to create a central coordinating body to oversee the cooperation of the many different authorities and security forces involved in the initiative. In order to reduce the pressure on local communities, chiefly those on islands bordering Turkey which have borne the brunt of the illegal influx, authorities decided on the use of ships as temporary «reception points» for newly arrived migrants, sources said. The migrants would be detained on these ships until the completion of all necessary procedures – including fingerprinting, medical tests and applications for asylum where necessary. Meanwhile, sources revealed, diplomats are to launch a campaign aimed at sensitizing their European counterparts to the particular problems encountered by Greece due to its geographical position at the EU’s southeastern border. Efforts will also be made to push EU officials for a revision of the Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that refugees seek asylum in the first EU country they enter. Finally there are plans to discourage human traffickers by upgrading the offense of smuggling migrants into the country from a misdemeanor to a felony, which would carry a heavy jail sentence.