The European Union's commissioner for migration urged EU member states on Monday (November 28) to take more refugees and send more asylum experts to help with the processing of migrants in countries such as Greece, where tensions have escalated at overcrowded camps.
"The crisis we are all confronted with is far away from being over soon," EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said during a forum in Athens organised by the European Asylum Support Office.
- He said an agreement between the bloc and Turkey to stem the flow of migrants to Europe must continue at "all costs".
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has suggested he might scrap the deal to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants inside his borders in return for the promise of accelerated EU membership talks, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe and financial aid.
- Last week, members of the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to freeze talks on Turkey joining the bloc, as a protest against Ankara's crackdown on dissent after a failed coup in July.
- Greece says it is overwhelmed by the number of asylum requests it has to handle and has often appealed for more personnel.
There are more than 60,000 migrants in Greece, most of whom have applied for asylum. The sluggish process has sparked anger among the migrants and fires and riots have broken out in the cramped camps on the islands.
European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Executive Director Jose Carreira, whose organisation is responsible for processing asylum requests, said the migrants crisis was "here to stay." Carreira said the deal with Turkey was working well but if it fell through, a new plan to stem the flow would be devised.
The EASO director echoed the commissioner in saying the organisation, currently running at some 200 people, needed to double those numbers.
Last month EASO offices in a camp on the island of Lesbos were set on fire by migrants protesting against delays in processing asylum claims.
London's Express is reporting that:
Athanassios Drougas, an intelligence expert in Athens, told The Times: "No one is underestimating Mr Erdogan and his unpredictability these days.
"These plans, along with explicit threats that the Turkish president has made in recent weeks, have Greece's joint chiefs of staff seriously concerned.
"They are fearful and they have told the political leadership here that if Turkey opens the floodgates yet again, Greece, in its current state of financial and social distress, will not be able to withstand the shock.
"It will spell war or wreak the havoc of one."