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Illegal immigration to the European Union decreases

30 November 2010 / 16:11:53  GRReporter
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The economic crisis in the European Union has a positive effect and it is to reduce illegal immigration to member countries. This was announced at a meeting with foreign correspondents in Athens by the Deputy Executive Director of Frontex Gil Arias Fernandez. Frontex is the special agency of the Union, which deals with the security of its external borders. According to the statistics data of the agency, the number of illegal immigrants in the first six months of 2010 was 41 thousand, which is 24 percent less than for the same period of 2009 when they were 55,000. The number of people who were not allowed to enter the European Union for one reason or another has also decreased. They were 22 percent less in the first 6 months of 2010 compared to the same period of 2009.

The search for asylum in EU countries has decreased too. During the first six months of 2010 were submitted 90,000 applications, which is 17 per cent less than the same period of 2009. According to the analysis of Frontex, presented by Gil Arias Fernandez, the flow of illegal immigrants arriving by sea in Europe has decreased too. They were 49 per cent of the total number of illegal immigrants in 2009 and in 2010 this percentage is only 16 per cent. The Deputy Executive Director of Frontex commented that the most important reason is that the trafficking of illegal immigrants in Greece moved from the islands to the land border with Turkey.

He said that the most important channel is the so-called West African route to the archipelago of the Dodecanese. The reduction of trafficking there is amounting to the impressive 99 per cent. During the first six months of 2009 16,000 immigrants entered there while during the same period of 2010 they were only 21. The traffic on the so-called Central African route to Italy and Malta decreased by 91 per cent and to Spain - by 54 per cent.

Generally, trafficking of illegal immigrants in Greece decreases much more slowly - only by 3 per cent. The flow of illegal immigrants to the islands has remarkably decreased - there were 15,000 people in the first 6 months of 2009 and 5000 during the same period of 2010. Significantly, however, has increased the number of immigrants through the land border between Greece and Turkey. 4800 illegal immigrants crossed the bother from January to June 2009 and their number for the same period this year was 14,000.

Gil Arias Fernandez explained that there are several reasons for this. The transfer of illegal immigrants by land is not so risky. There is a risk but not significant one. It is also cheaper. And it is more convenient. It is very easy to get to Germany and other EU countries from northern Greece through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. Another reason is that Turkey has abolished visas for Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and the residents of these North African countries very easily travel mostly to Istanbul, which is a destination of many low cost airlines. As it is known, the border with Greece is not more than 2 hours away from there. Therefore, illegal border crossings in the region of Orestiada and downstream of the Maritsa river have increased by 415 per cent from January until the end of October this year and amount to about 39,000. 2500-3000 people a day arrived in the summer so the Greek authorities resorted to Frontex to help guard the border. RABIT mission has been sent in northern Greece on November 2 - RApid Border Intervention Teams. 175 officers were sent on a mission along the Greek-Turkish border. They have airplane, helicopter, buses, minibuses, cars and specially trained dogs at their disposal.
And the result of the mission, involving 26 countries, including Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, are not late. 7586 people have crossed the border illegally in October and in November they were 44 per cent less or 4270. The executive director of Frontex admitted that unfortunately there is very little, not to say almost no support from the Turkish authorities. It is just the relations between Turkey and Greece are very delicate and this is why there is no progress made with the Turkish authorities, although there are contacts established with them.

His officers seized and 13 traffickers from Turkey, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Georgia and Palestine. The fee they take depends on the length of the route. The price from Istanbul to the Greek border is 400 euros. To Sweden, however, it jumps to 5500 euros. The ‘journey’ from Afghanistan to Athens costs 2400 euros. 90 percent of the immigrants are men aged between 18 and 30 years.

The mission will remain in northern Greece until January15. Its officers will review the situation along the Turkish-Greek border in mid-December to decide whether their mandate should be extended. Gil Arias Fernandez concluded that it is expected part of the illegal immigrants flow to move to the Black Sea when Romania and Bulgaria join the Schengen so that there will be outflow from Greece. However, this is to be observed the next year when those two countries join their borders to the European Union.


Tags: Frontex RABITIllegal immigrationGreek-Turkish borderEuropean Union
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