Monday

23rd Jan 2017

Greece to deport undocumented migrants

  • Greek authorities arrested over 1,500 undocumented migrants in Athens on 2 and 3 August (Photo: mkhalili)

Authorities in Greece rounded up 6,030 undocumented migrants in Athens over the weekend and arrested 1,525 of them for not meeting the legal conditions for residency in Greece.

"Those arrested will be deported to their home countries," Greece's ministry of public order and citizen protection told EUobserver in an email.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

None among those arrested are minors, authorities claim.

The campaign is the start of larger permanent operation named after the Greek god of hospitality - "Xenius Zeus" - which will soon spread to all Greek peripheries and prefectures.

Police academy facilities in Xanthi and Komotini near the Turkish border were to temporarily house those detained, but local authorities, church representatives, MPs and people from the region reportedly blockaded the streets in protest.

The operation also aims to seal gaps on the border with Turkey - the main crossing and entry point of undocumented migrants into Europe.

Greek authorities last week posted over 1,800 additional border guards on its Turkish border to prevent people who are fleeing the Syrian conflict from getting in.

For his part, police spokesman Christos Manouras said the aim of Xenius Zeus is to push back undocumented migrants to the Evros region on the Turkish bronder and, ultimately, to send them back to their countries of origin.

Public order minister Nikos Dendias told reporters the crackdown is necessary to safeguard the foundations of the Greek state. On Saturday, the police claimed "national survival" was at stake.

Greece has no official statistics on the number of "illegal" immigrants in the country, but the Greek Refugee Council (GRC) estimates it to be around 1 million, with many in transit to other countries.

The GRC says Greece lacks reception and screening centres to process those detained.

"There is no guarantee that among all these people, there are refugees and vulnerables in need of protection. Since there is no free access to asylum, this aim is not legitimate. This action is a unilateral act for deportations," the group told this website.

The UN refugee agency in Greece, the UNHCR, is also concerned that among those arrested are people in legitimate need of international protection.

The UN agency told this website that some may lack the required documents to reside in Greece because they were unable to submit their asylum claims.

"Access to relevant authorities is practically impossible," the UNHCR said in an email.

The agency noted that Greece needs to ensure people who need international protection have the opportunity to request it.

It also said that refugees from war-torn countries and genuine asylum-seekers should not be sent back if their lives might be endangered.

The UN agency recommends states adopt a moratorium on all returns to Syria for the time being.

For its part, the European Commission is preparing a mission together with the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office (Easo) and the EU's border control agency, Frontex, in order to support the Greek government with the deployment of the additional border guards.

"Member states must carry out the removal using the least coercive measures possible. It is only when the enforcement of the return decision is being compromised by the person concerned, that member states may deprive that person of their liberty and detain them in a specialised facility," the European Commission said in an email.

News in Brief

  1. Fury over UK 'cover up' of failed missile test
  2. Theresa May: I will not be afraid to stand up to Trump
  3. Brexit will destroy NI peace deal, says Gerry Adams
  4. EU housing price increase by 4.3%
  5. EU trade chief says UK deal will take 'couple of years'
  6. German defence spending boost not enough for Nato goal
  7. Belgian MPs refuse to give up free alcohol
  8. Merkel last leader to get call from Obama

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  2. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  3. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  5. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  6. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  7. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  8. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  10. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!

Latest News

  1. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  3. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  4. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  5. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  6. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  7. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room
  8. Trump: New sheriff in town