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Politics

Greek Coast Guard Getting Enhanced Aegean Sea Surveillance System

Five years after refugees and migrants began pouring onto Greek islands from Turkey, arriving in little flotillas of rubber dinghies and rickety boats, Greece's Coast Guard is going to improve its surveillance system for the Aegean Sea.

The National Integrated Maritime Surveillance System will cost some 62 million euros ($72.78 million) and is a state-of-the-art method of watching what's going on in the sea where Coast Guard vessels, aided by the European Union's Frontex border patrol agency, hunts for refugees and migrants. 

They had gone to Turkey fleeing war, strife and economic hardships in the countries, human traffickers then bringing them to five Greek islands where virtually all the 34,000 being held are seeking asylum.

There's another 66,000 on the mainland also wanting sanctuary after the EU closed its borders to them and other countries reneged on pledges to help take some of the overload. 

The surveillance system will use 35 fixed radars and 26 large-scale cameras set up at military installations and will transmit in real time and on a 24-hour basis to two management centers of the Hellenic Armed Forces, said Kathimerini.

The bid was announced back on June 30 and the deadline for applications first put at Aug. 30 but pushed back to Oct. 30 because of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the country. 

The aim is to provide “timely awareness of the prevailing situation in the maritime field of responsibility of the Coast Guard,” said Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis.

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