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European Rapid Border Intervention Teams will remain in Greece another two months, the traffic of illegal immigrants could shift to Bulgaria

30 December 2010 / 13:12:03  GRReporter
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More than 73 people traffickers were arrested this year in Evros under the specialized plan to prevent illegal immigration.

According to the police department in Orestiada, the captured tried to transfer around 500 illegal immigrants to Greece, mainly across the Maritsa River. Most of the traffickers were ‘boatmen’ and were captured from April onwards. The police groups involved in their capture had modern equipment such as thermal cameras.

The latest arrest occurred last week when a 35-years-old Turk tried to transfer four illegal immigrants to Greece in a rubber boat across Maritsa.

It was announced meanwhile that the European Rapid Border Intervention Team (RABIT) will remain in Evros for another two months of the six that are provided in the regulation of their functions. The European border police patrolling the northern and southern parts of Evros since November 5 will stay until March 3, 2011 following the decision of the European Security Service Frontex.

The original plan for deployment of 175 European border policemen from the 26 member countries of the EU intended the mission to be completed on January 2, 2011 but the Executive Director of Frontex Ilkka Laitinen signed its extension for another two months. Moreover, he said that Frontex will not withdraw entirely from the Greek-Turkish border even after the Rapid Border Intervention Teams leave the area.

The results of the current involvement of European border guards in the fight against illegal immigration are considered satisfactory. European officials stressed that the first RABIT mission has achieved measurable results accounting that the cases of illegal entry into Greece across the land border have decreased by 44% from last October.

Ilkka Laitinen said, however, that short-term solutions will not prevent illegal immigration and repeated his previous comments that border control is not panacea for solving the problem of illegal immigration. He stressed that long-term decisions should be taken at European level and that Frontex, which was located near the Greek-Turkish border before the RABIT mission, will remain there after their withdrawal.

The Greek Minister for Citizens Protection Christos Papoutsis said a few days ago that military forces are considered to be involved in the efforts to prevent illegal immigration.

According to the latest forecasts, Bulgaria and Romania are expected to be included in the new corridors of illegal immigration to Western Europe as well as the flow of immigrants through the Aegean islands to increase again.

The Executive Director of Frontex also said that European service monitors the Poseidon Land operation to make sure that Greece has the necessary operational support for the effective management of the border in the region. The joint operation was launched in 2006 at the seafrontage between Greece and Turkey and quickly achieved good results in preventing illegal immigration. Poseidon Land operation was amended to include land border in Greece but also the border between Bulgaria and Turkey due to changes in migration trends in 2010.

A draft of the Ministry for Citizens Protection, which was presented today at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, provides for the establishment of Bureau to prevent cases of willfulness. It will file complaints about violations of human dignity, torture and other mistreatment of citizens by uniformed officers of the security forces. The purpose of this measure is to create a reliable accountability and control tool that will ensure the rapid and effective investigation and allocation of responsibility.

A new unit of auxiliary firefighters will be formed at the fire service and its members will come from the ranks of today's volunteers. They will sit for exams and a special committee, which will also involve members of the supreme council for the selection of staff, will select them according to objective qualities. This unit will be responsible for forest protection and forest fires and will assist the fire service in conjunction with its core obligations.

The new law will cancel field guard the functions of which will be transferred within the competence of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and will be implemented by the forestry enterprises by regions. Its staff will be moved to forestry enterprises where appropriate jobs will be opened according to their qualification.

In addition, the competences of the Council for Coordination and Strategic Security at the Ministry for Citizens Protection, of the Security Issues Research Centre, the Office of Internal Affairs at the Greek police will be expanded to improve their role and mission. The Ministry will also establish an independent department which will deal with the management of EU funded development programs and coordinate relevant ministries for their implementation.

The law will regulate issues relating to the supply of cars seized by the security forces to cover their needs when they are injured in implementing their duties or as a reward for a task well done as well as the special account for the involvement of police.

Another draft will establish Coast Guard headquarters. The first draft is available on the website of the Ministry to be debated in public and is expected to be submitted for vote in the Parliament in mid-January.


Tags: European Rapid Border Intervention TeamsIllegal immigrantsFrontex
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