A tsunami of refugees is on the move due to wars in the wider region, according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR (United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees). Greece has already received large inflows of war refugees that are expected to increase, according to the UNHCR, said a government source on Monday. The alert has been signalled, however in Greece, there is a lack of infrastructures to support the sudden influx as the previous conservative New Democracy government had not made use of EU funds at their disposal despite the constant warnings of the UNHCR regarding emergency situations that could arise.
Greece, an entry point for refugee flows has non-existent infrastructures to deal with this. The new Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) government is already working on a contingency plan. Abandoned government and army buildings have already started being used as refugee camps, however dealing with the huge influx needs the activation of European mechanisms. There has been a request, through the UNHCR, for refugees that have relocated from Syria to be moved to other countries.
The government is awaiting other parties to submit specific proposals.
Over 750 irregular immigrants in Greece over the last week alone
At dawn on Monday, 109 of the 157 irregular immigrants that were arrested on Gavdos during Greek Holy Week arrived in Athens. Many of these were forced to sleep at Victoria Square due to a lack of lodgings, whereas others received temporary shelter from their fellow countrymen.
An estimated 750 irregular immigrants arrived in Athens via the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Kos. 160 of the people who arrived on Kos were crammed in squalid conditions at the police precinct of the island. 100 of the refugees from Kos arrived alone or with their families at the port of Piraeus. Their future? Unknown.
Ta Nea daily newspaper reports that from January -March 2014, a total of 2,863 irregular immigrants arrived in Greece, whereas this number has more than tripled to 10,445 for the same period this year. 6,500 irregular immigrants reached the shores of the East Aegean over the last month.
Main opposition conservative New Democracy party
The main opposition party said the government had “gall” in seeking to pin the non-existent infrastructures for housing irregular refugees on the previous government’s inertia. “They made the uncontrolled entry and establishment of migrants in Greece their election banner and they are very presumption to pin resopnsibility on others concerning the country’s predicament,” said New Democracy Spokesperson Kostas Karagounis.
Centrist opposition Potami Party
To Potami announced that a “game” is being played with Greece’s borders. The party stresses that Athens is being transformed into a “people warehouse” and that Greece cannot be a country with open borders. The party refers to a “mess” at detention centers. The party points to SYRIZA’s pre-election pledge to evict Frontex, stating that human trafficking is a huge problem. The party states that immigration is a “huge national issue” and urged the government to deal with it, suggestiong a new institutional and legal framework.
The party also wants collaboration with Turkey on this matter as well as an agreement with EU partners so that they can take up some of the burden of accepting refugees who come to Greece to escape wars and civil clashes.