Greece: Deportations will be sped up in response to resurgence in irregular migrant arrivals

Greece says it will speed up deportations in response to the latest increase in irregular migrant flows from neighbouring Turkey. On 29 August 2019, 16 boats carrying about 650 irregular migrants reached Lesbos, 13 of those in under an hour.

The arrivals were reported to be mostly comprising of Afghan families.

“It surprised us. We haven’t seen this type of simultaneous arrivals in this number since 2016,” said Boris Cheshirkov, spokesman for UNHCR in Greece on news agency Reuters.

The Greek government said it will tighten its borders by increasing border surveillance with NATO and the EU border patrol agency Frontex. Police patrols will also be boosted across the country to identify rejected asylum seekers who continue to remain in country. 

The asylum process will be sped up. The government said it plans to abolish the appeals stage of the process, and directly deport applicants back to Turkey or their country of origin.

“Asylum must move quickly so that those who are entitled to international protection are vindicated … and for us to know who should not stay in Greece,” Greece’s deputy citizen protection minister responsible for migration policy, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, told state television.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias reportedly summoned the Turkish ambassador to “express Greece’s deep discontent” with the rise in flows from Turkey, diplomatic sources told Reuters. It added that the Turkish ambassador said Turkey was “committed” to the EU-Turkey deal and that its policy had not changed.

Mediterranean arrivals into the European Union reached its peak in 2015, with over a million irregular migrants. In response, the EU struck a deal with Turkey in March 2016, aimed at managing the flow of irregular migrants from Turkey to Europe in exchange for EUR 3 billion in aid and other terms.

Over the summer, the Turkish coastguard has also been increasing patrols and interceptions at sea. It said nearly 17,000 irregular migrants have been picked up by the coastguard this year. The migrants are made up of a variety of nationalities from across Asia and Africa.

TMP – 05/09/2019

Photo credit: Nicolas Economou/ Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Aerial view of Moria Refugee Camp, July 11, 2018 – Lesvos island, Greece

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