Frontex initiates patrol operations in Aegean Sea

EU border agency ramps up operations near Greek Islands to slow down refugee flow

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

An Afghan refugee jumps off an overcrowded raft onto a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos October 19, 2015.

Frontex has increased its presence in the Aegean Sea as part of a joint operation with Greek Coast Guard to curb the huge refugee flow, the EU border agency announced on Tuesday.

The Poseidon Rapid Intervention, began on Monday and will continue until March 31.

Frontex deployed 15 vessels for operations in the Greek Islands. Lesbos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros have been dealing with a huge influx of refugees for the past year.

Frontex also said that it will deploy "additional vessels, vehicles and other technical equipment to assist the national authorities in the management of the unprecedented refugee pressure at the Greek external borders"

According to a former Frontex statement, the number of new personnel deployed will eventually be around 400 officers, including experts in screening, debriefing, fingerprinting and forged documents, as well as interpreters.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras formerly stated that Athens counted on more help from the EU, requesting the number of Frontex guards in the Aegean Sea to be increased to 1,600.

On Sunday, German politicians criticised Greece - the main gateway for asylum seekers arriving Europe - over its handling of the refugee crisis.

"The Greeks should not put the blame for their problems only on others, they should also see how they can do better themselves," Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

Earlier this month, the International Organisation for Migration announced the number of refugees that entered Europe this year had passed 1 million, which four times greater than the previous year.

Driven out of their countries by war, poverty and persecution, almost all of them risked their lives at sea, while 3,692 refugees drowned trying to make the journey.

TRTWorld and agencies