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Guardian: Greece "can't Cope" With Illegal Immigration Flood

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Greece struggles to cope as immigration tensions soar

The Guardian

Greek authorities are desperately trying to cope with a surge of migrants on to the country's islands which has left detention centres overflowing.

Last week, amid chaotic scenes, hundreds of migrants demonstrated against "inhuman conditions" in a detention camp on Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos, in a protest that saw hunger-striking minors setting fire to mattresses and attacking guards. The clashes highlighted the rising anger on island outposts that are being overwhelmed by a double influx of holidaymakers and illegal migrants.

According to senior immigration officials, Greece has now become the frontline of migration to the EU. "Greece is Fortress Europe's weakest link," said one EU official, who added that for traffickers bent on ferrying human cargo to the west, its borders were like a "big open door".

Last week in northern France, police used bulldozers to clear immigrants from the Calais camp known as the "jungle". But the problem there is dwarfed by the unfolding drama in the Greek islands.

Mytilene, off the coast of Turkey, and other tourist magnets can receive up to 500 "illegals" a day, according to authorities, and have become the favoured entry points into Europe for thousands from Afghanistan and Iraq.

"They're coming in by the boatload from Turkey at all hours of the night and day," said Nikoloas Zacharis, vice-prefect of Samos, another Aegean island. "It's uncontrollable."

Last week's "uprising," the latest in a series of revolts by immigrants, has provoked a huge row over Greece's treatment of "guests" it does not want.

"That children as young as 12 were on hunger strike in Greek detention is a gross indictment of the government's failure to care for them," said Simone Troller at Human Rights Watch.

Greece is not the only southern European country to be targeted by people smugglers. Spain, Italy and Malta have also been hit by an influx of immigrants but Greece and its islands are seen as Europe's easiest "backdoor" entrance. Last year an estimated 150,000 migrants, mostly from Asia but also from Africa, illegally entered Greece, police say.

Forced to cope with the country's porous land borders and 18,400 kilometres of unwieldy coastline, immigration officials are overstretched.

Tensions have been exacerbated by the extraordinary risks immigrants appear willing to take to cross the border. Those from war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan have frequently put their lives in danger to make the journey either in rickety rafts or on foot across minefields that still line Greece's northern land frontier with Turkey.

In recent years, an alarming number of pregnant women and parentless children have been among those crossing treacherous mountain passes and rough seas, according to human rights groups. Last year, as many as 3,000 minors – some of them as young as six and mostly from Afghanistan – were dumped by smugglers on remote Aegean isles.

In an attempt to staunch the human tide, Greek coastguard patrols have been equipped with high-speed boats and infrared tracking devices. France and Spain have dispatched helicopters to the area to help.

Acutely aware of the rising social tensions the influx has caused, the centre-right government, which faces an election on 4 October, has stepped up arrests with successive police sweeps in Athens' where rising crime has, increasingly, been blamed on migrants.

The arrests followed the announcement of draconian legislation in July, which included dramatically extending the amount of time undocumented migrants can be detained. And, despite widespread protests from Greeks and migrants groups over the prospect of "migrant concentration camps" being created, the conservatives have also floated the idea of detaining "illegals" in disused military facilities.

"The situation has reached crisis proportions, partly because detention centres are now so overcrowded," said Nikos Koplas, a lawyer who has long assisted refugees seeking asylum. "Locking them up is not the way forward. The answer lies with the EU. It's as if Greece is becoming a depot for illegal entries from all of Asia. It needs to share the burden."

In northern Europe capitals, where most illegal migrants head, the surge in arrivals has also caused growing consternation. Of 278 Afghan minors arrested last week in Calais, most entered Europe through Greece. Improved policing of the western Mediterranean, particularly the Canary Islands and southern Italy, has played a role.

"The main effect of more efficient patrols in the western Mediterranean is that we now have more people coming through the eastern Mediterranean," said Martin Baldwin-Edwards who runs the Mediterranean Migration Observatory at Athens' Panteion University.

"But most of the migrants are intent on moving on. When they see that conditions are not what they like or expect, they start heading deeper into Europe. Many prefer the UK because there's a whole mythology about it. They've heard from family and friends who are already there that it is a better democracy, with better conditions, plentiful jobs and fairer treatment of migrants."

Greece's notorious asylum process has the lowest acceptance rate in Europe. Of the 20,000 applicants last year, asylum was accorded to only 379.

Immigrants invariably complain that, with a backlog of more than 30,000 cases, they have no choice but to seek asylum elsewhere in Europe. As in France, authorities in Greece have tried to solve the problem by bulldozing makeshift camps, including one in the port city of Patras that, like the "jungle", was inhabited mostly by unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan.

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Pretty soon we'll have to start shooting...

Edited by Tokyo_Expat

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They've heard from family and friends who are already there that it is a better democracy, with better conditions, plentiful jobs and fairer treatment of migrants.

:lol::lol::lol::lol:

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Greece's notorious spot-on asylum process has the lowest acceptance rate in Europe. Of the 20,000 applicants last year, asylum was accorded to only 379.

That's what we need.

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Pretty soon we'll have to start shooting..

..says the great British ex-pat patriot. "We'll fight them from the beaches...a few miles away from roppongi". Don't worry, Gordo will hold them up just long enough to bring back your immigrant-butt to fight them off :lol:

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The EU needs to start putting them on planes back to thier home country, for as long as none are sent back the people traffickers win. There needs to be a mass export of immigrants attemting to get in, sent back so they can tell every other member of thier community that the EU is not a land of milk and honey and that the 9K USD they paid people trafickers was wasted money.

As long as they believe that paying people traffickers results in success they will keep coming.

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There needs to be a mass export of immigrants attemting to get in, sent back so they can tell every other member of thier community that the EU is not a land of milk and honey and that the 9K USD they paid people trafickers was wasted money.

The problem is the EU IS the land of milk and honey compared to some places people come from , working a min wage job in the UK might not exactly be great to me and you , but for some people its much better than what they are coming from.

Probably something to do with Gordo's immigration policy , ie turn the UK into a 4th world country and there will ne no people wanting to come here.

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The problem is the EU IS the land of milk and honey compared to some places people come from , working a min wage job in the UK might not exactly be great to me and you , but for some people its much better than what they are coming from.

Probably something to do with Gordo's immigration policy , ie turn the UK into a 4th world country and there will ne no people wanting to come here.

We can still let in immigrants that use the correct system i.e apply at the local UK consultate in thier country. What we are doing now is encouraging people to not use the correct process. It should be catch an illegal trying to get in, put on plane, sent home, told to apply through correct channels. In the case of minors the EU should fund boarding schools in thier home countries for the minors to be sent there.

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Not surprising when we bomb the sh*t out of some people's countries they head elsewhere.

Just reading about Iraq, where it is absolutely policy to employ foriegn workers and not the local population. Insane.

Iraq will not recover for a long time if ever. No wonder they want to come here, at least to work, if not to extract revenge.

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Just reading about Iraq, where it is absolutely policy to employ foreign workers and not the local population. Insane.

Iraq will not recover for a long time if ever. No wonder they want to come here, at least to work, if not to extract revenge.

Lets have a open door policy and settle them in Scotland,they are depopulating a very fast rate this could answer their problem.

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why?

To stop the countries of the EU from becoming a huge adoption agency for the dispossessed peoples of the world.

Its no accident of geography that Western Europe happens to be a place where people want to come to live and work. Its this way because of the people that make up these countries, if we change the culture and make up of the population do you think that Europe would still be seen as a great place to emigrate to?

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Pretty soon we'll have to start shooting...

Yes. Why are our army on the other side of the world fighting a war for America while our borders are intentionally left defenceless by Nu Labour, happy that their Grand Utopian Plan is being fulfilled with unchecked, uncontrolled mass 3rd world immigration? The problem isn't so much the migrants who could be easily dealt with, but the left-wingers and politically correct:

The situation has reached crisis proportions, partly because detention centres are now so overcrowded," said Nikos Koplas, a lawyer who has long assisted refugees seeking asylum. "Locking them up is not the way forward. The answer lies with the EU. It's as if Greece is becoming a depot for illegal entries from all of Asia. It needs to share the burden.

No. No we don't need to "share the burden". There is no "burden". These people are illegal economic migrants. They have their own countries and have no right to live and work in Europe. Send them back, and if as is often the case you can't figure out where they've come from, send them somewhere really crappy like Somalia. They'll soon get the message.

And why does Greece have a "notorious" immigration and asylum process that only has a tiny fraction of successful applicants, while Britain is the soft-touch land of milk and honey where they all head? Why can't we have a "notorious" immigation system, please? Its because the PC Guardianistas have held sway over our once great land for far too long. Britain needs a swing to the right, buit Dave's Conservatives are just a continuation of the Blair days. Time for the electorate of Britain to choose a radical new direction for our country.

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Get a grip on reality, did Britain fill up with German refugees during World War 2?

That's a hell of a difference. For a start, we haven't lost one in ten of our young men to the fighting in Iraq.

If we had, do you think they would be queueing up to get into this country?

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I was in Greece not long back. From the locals' perspective, it seemed to be illegal immigrants from the non-EU Eastern European countries that were causing the problems, as opposed to 'boat people' from the African continent. Most of the European people are happy to stay there, under the radar, as they can usually find jobs with the local restaurants etc, who, whilst paying them poorly, still give them enough for a roof over their head in a nice warm country!

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That's a hell of a difference. For a start, we haven't lost one in ten of our young men to the fighting in Iraq.

If we had, do you think they would be queueing up to get into this country?

Yeah, course they would! They'll continue queing up to get their hands on our council homes and benefits until we elect some people with the backbone to do something about it!

By the way, making pointless comparisons between WW2 and the recent conflicts in Asia doesn't detract from the point that we didn't accept 1000s of German refugess during WW2.

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There are also stories of Turkish naval craft escorting these immigrants. Whether this is down to rogue officers I can't say but there also need to be controls from the countries bordering the EU, especially from countries with ambitions to join the club.

This, though, in my opinion is only a detail. What we are seeing now is the result of global inequalities. Until we start making policy decisions from a global perspective, these problems will continue to worsen. Europe is not a fortress and it is impossible to police all the land and sea borders.

And now there are the rumbling percursors of war in Iran. Well, that will do wonders for the immigration problem.

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