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Greek Government Buries its Head in the Sand on Migrant Influx

metanastes-kwsWith about 1,000 refugees and illegal migrants entering Greece each day, the Greek government celebrates the establishment of a 500-capacity facility and calls it a model of hospitality.
According to UNHCR figures, 21,000 refugees from Syria and migrants from Africa and Asia landed on the Greek islands in one week alone. Nevertheless, Deputy Minister on Immigration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou has announced that by the end of 2015 Greece will have such facilities to accommodate 2,500 people.
Completely disengaged from reality, the Deputy Minister keeps making controversial statements that infuriate those who see the gravity of the problem and the frivolous reactions from the Greek government. Her latest jewel was: “For those wishing to be housed, there is an open hospitality center in Elaionas. The rest can go their way.”
The problem with Christodoulopoulou is that she believes that once the papers of refugees and migrants are processed, they are free to do whatever they want, go wherever they want. She celebrated the accommodation of about 180 people as if she has solved the problem.
In March, Citizen Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis had closed down the Amygdaleza migrant detention camp due to inhuman living conditions. The migrants were set loose in downtown Athens to mayor Giorgos Kaminis’ dismay. When the mayor asked the Deputy Minister where do the migrants go after they are released in Omonoia Square, she answered: “I don’t know, they disappear.”
So far the Greek government has done absolutely nothing to tackle the serious issue of migrant influx. Or rather they believe that the problem will be solved by bold, humanitarian statements. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras bravely announced: “We will not become a warehouse of human souls.” That may sound good on voters’ ears but it doesm’t really solve the problem. Or statements like “We Greeks are known for our hospitality and humanity” can hardly feed and house a few hundred thousand people by the end of the year.
Greece has made some feeble efforts with help by the European Commission but apparently they were not insistent enough. Europe is whistling indifferently, letting Athens deal with the problem. But Athens is busy with other things.
According to United Nations estimates, there are about 1.5 million people who will try to cross to Europe within the next few months due to the continuation of war in Syria and Afghanistan. However, the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition has not taken one single step to deal with the issue. The Prime Minister is apparently too busy with dissenters in his party to deal with anything else. And SYRIZA lawmakers are in a contest of who is a true leftist and who is not.
The Greek government wishes that the refugees will come to Greece and then go to richer European nations once they clear their status. But the events of recent months show that many of them are here to stay. Not necessarily because this is their best choice, but at least because things in Greece are much more lax than other European countries. Much more so for those who are not refugees but illegal migrants seeking a better life.
The staff guarding Greece’s land and sea borders has diminished tremendously due to budget cuts. The border fence in Evros, northern Greece, has been torn down by the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition as “undemocratic.” The Greek Coast Guard has many of its boats rusting, waiting for repair due to lack of funds.
Once the Prime Minister and his cabinet realize that a large number of migrants are here to stay because of the anomie level that exists in Greece, then they may decide that something must be done.

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