Saturday 17 March 2018

Greece appeals to EU for more border guards

Stranded migrants await entry into Macedonia on the Greek side of the border (AP)
Stranded migrants await entry into Macedonia on the Greek side of the border (AP)

Greece has appealed for the European Union to urgently send border guards to help control its maritime frontier with Turkey as well as tents, generators and first aid for arriving refugees.

More than 50,000 people have arrived in Greece seeking sanctuary or jobs in Europe in the last month, and EU partners are pressing Athens to control the influx.

If Athens fails to do enough, passport controls could be reintroduced for Greek citizens travelling in Europe.

Greece also wants the EU's border agency Frontex to help register migrants at its land border with Macedonia.

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said officials "hope to have concrete, tangible progress on the ground" in Greece before EU leaders meet on December 17.

Greece's European affairs minister said his country has repeatedly asked for European Union help to deal with the massive influx of refugees this year, but the response so far has been far less than what was needed.

Nikos Xydakis said Greece had been "persistently" asking for technical help and manpower since May to tackle the arrival of more than 700,000 people who have passed through the country since January.

He said EU member states and the EU itself had been unable to adequately respond to Greece's needs.

The United States is giving 24 million dollars (£15 million) in new money to help refugees as the European winter approaches.

The aid will go to the UN refugee agency for food, water and shelter. It will also help authorities screen and process refugees as they arrive in Europe.

US secretary of state John Kerry made the announcement as he visited Athens.

The U.S. has provided 4.5 billion dollars (£3 billion) in humanitarian assistance since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011.

Greek authorities said that more than 2,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have crossed into Macedonia from Greece, the day after the border was closed following clashes between migrants.

More than 3,000 people remain stuck on the Greek side of the border as Macedonia and other Balkan countries refuse to let them through, considering them economic migrants seeking jobs, not refugees fleeing war.

Those refused entry to Macedonia threw stones at Greek riot police, who have been struggling to maintain order for the past two days.

Greek authorities have sent free trains and buses to carry the presumed economic migrants back to Athens, where they will be invited to seek asylum in Greece if they want. But nearly all those entering Greece from Turkey want to live in wealthy European countries such as Germany or Sweden.

Press Association

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