NEWS

Frontex guards coming next week

The European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex said yesterday that it would be dispatching 175 «border control specialists» to the northern region of Evros near the Turkish border next week to help Greece curb a growing influx of illegal immigrants. «The deployment is scheduled to commence on November 2 with an anticipated duration of up to two months,» Frontex said in a press release issued yesterday. The officers to be sent to Evros will include specialists in several fields, the agency said. «They will include experts in false documents, clandestine entry, first- and second-line border checks and stolen vehicles as well as dog handlers, specialist interviewers and interpreters.» The agency added that all the guards had received «mandatory human-rights awareness training.» Earlier this week, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had expressed concern about the possible repercussions of the border crackdown on migrants meriting refugee status. In a statement, the UNHCR said it recognized the need for control of the EU’s external border but warned that «asylum needs should not be compromised.» Apart from human resources, Frontex said it would also be sending several patrol vehicles and a helicopter to intensify existing patrols of the border area from the land and from the air. It will be the first time since the agency was formed in 2007 that Frontex guards will be deployed on the border of a European Union member state. The guards, members of the Rapid Border Intervention Team, are to take their orders from Greek authorities. The intervention by Frontex comes after Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis appealed last week to Brussels to bolster the efforts of Greek authorities at the Turkish border, noting that more than 300 people were trying to breach the border each day.