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Frontex closes up, a new agency is to be created in its place

14 December 2015 / 21:12:11  GRReporter
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Maria S. Topalova
    Tomorrow the European Commission will consider a proposal to create a new agency to guard and control the external borders of the Union. Once the Commission approves the proposal, the member states will vote on it, as announced by Vice President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for the Budget and Human Resources Kristalina Georgieva, who visited Athens in connection with the refugee crisis.

FRONTEX will not close up immediately and the new agency will gradually take up its functions. It will have twice the capacity of its predecessor, equipment and trained staff that will be able to distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. In fact, the return of economic migrants to their own countries will be one of the priorities of the new agency. As GRReporter already announced, last week Pakistan refused to accept its nationals, economic migrants, returned from Bulgaria, Greece and Austria.

"There are three main problems in this direction. The first is the documentation. Now the argument to refuse reception is that the documents are not sufficiently convincing, that they are questionable. The second problem is the initiative on our part to support this return with economic stimulus. We see that wherever this return is working, it is connected with the support of the European Union and the member states to motivate the receiving country. The third is logistics - the organization of return, there are more chances of realizing it when it is done in a coordinated manner, involving the entire European Union," said Kristalina Georgieva.

In Athens, she signed a programme for European financing of 20,000 places for temporary accommodation of refugees worth 80 million euro. It provides not only for accommodation centres but also for hotel vouchers, as well as for the provision of foster families. "This programme will enable us to meet our obligations as Europeans and to give asylum to refugees without destroying our daily lives. It is not about creating refugee ghettos but about distribution of small groups of refugees among the local population," explained Athens Mayor George Kaminis.

According to the Vice President of the European Commission, the programme is developed to stimulate financial and local businesses, enabling many small shops that have closed during the crisis to start operating again. The initiative implementation is entrusted to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who has experience in implementing similar programmes in many countries worldwide.

"In Greece, we can certainly talk about a refugee crisis. Only 8% of arrivals here can be characterized as economic migrants. The remaining 92% have every reason to seek refugee status," said George Okoth-Obbo, UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees. According to the Commissioner’s data, over 2,000 refugees died in the Aegean this year alone and more than half of the victims were children.

Greek Minister for Migration Yiannis Mouzalas announced that the country would not stop receiving refugees and economic migrants who, according to him, would keep on arriving unless traffickers in Turkey were prevented from operating. "The refugee problem is not a Greek problem. It is happening in Greece, but it is a common European problem and therefore, the solution to it should be European," said Mouzalas.

Kristalina Georgieva announced that the recently opened hot spot in Lesbos was working smoothly and that hot spots would open soon on the islands of Kos and Leros.

Tags: Refugee crisisEuropean UnionKristalina GeorgievaGreece Yiannis MouzasAthens MayorGeorge Kaminis
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