With Greece awash in scores of thousands of illegal immigrants, government and European Union officials said they have a “game plan” to deal with them, but didn’t say what it was.
Most of the migrants are coming to eastern Aegean islands near Turkey, arriving on rubber dinghies and rickety craft, many drowning in the process.
Those who make it find alternating Greek hospitality and hostility and as the Radical Left SYRIZA government admitted it had no idea what to do with them, leaving it to locals and NGO’s and charities.
Now, the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs – former Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos – said that Greek and European authorities are finally working together.
Avramopoulos, who met with several ministers during a visit to Athens last week, told reporters in Brussels they have drafted “a game plan… a plan for how we can work together to address a problem that is not Greek, a problem that is European.”
He said he was glad that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is speeding efforts to create an immigration office that’s required before Greece can tap 474 million euros ($525.74 million) in EU aid that’s been set aside to help
Once the service is up and running “money can start flowing immediately,” he said, adding that an initial installment of 30 million euros ($33.27 million) would be disbursed first.
In the meantime, Avramopoulos, said the Commission is “fast-tracking” a Greek request for 2.74 million euros ($3.04 million) to help island governments handle the overflow.
DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO
Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou said the the problem was bigger than authorities had anticipated.
“All the predictions we have made were overwhelmingly proved to be wrong as the problem with migrants on the islands is more serious than in urban centers and that’s where we really need reception centers,” she told Skai.
Ironically, SYRIZA has been closing detention centers and releasing illegal immigrants, many bused back into Athens and dumped there.
Christodoulopoulou said Greece is being targeted not just because it’s close geographically to the Middle East and Northern Africa but because Hungary is building a wall along its border with Serbia to stem immigration flows.
She said a ferry boat as sent to the island of Kos as a temporary measure to house thousands of immigrants with more arriving daily.
She claimed that local authorities had “sabotaged” alternative solutions proposed by the government such as using a hotel for temporary accommodation.