The European Union’s border protection agency Frontex has requested 775 more guards from member states to help Italy, Greece and other countries register migrants arriving from Libya and Turkey, almost doubling the size of the operation.
Warsaw-based Frontex said today (5 October) it was the largest number of border guards it had requested since the agency’s launch a decade ago.
The European Union is reeling from its biggest refugee influx since World War Two. Most of them, many arriving from countries such as Syria, and Iraq, aim to move on from Greece and Italy to wealthier countries such as Germany, which is expecting an influx of some 800,000 people this year.
The Commission has proposed a ‘hotspot approach’ to assist frontline member states who are facing disproportionate migratory pressure, such as Italy and Greece.
The ‘hotspot approach’ will also contribute to the implementation of the temporary relocation schemes proposed by the European Commission on 27 May (for 40,000 asylum-seekers) and 9 September (for 120,000 asylum-seekers): people in clear need of international protection will be identified in frontline Member States for relocation to other EU member states where their asylum application will be processed.
“Since the beginning of this year over 470,000 migrants arrived in Greece and Italy alone,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri. “No country can possibly handle such high migratory pressure at its borders by itself.”
Frontex does not hire the guards or own vessels to strengthen the protection of EU’s external borders, but borrows them from member states.
The agency’s two biggest operations are in Italy and Greece, where it is already co-ordinating about 1,000 personnel with coastguard vessels and helicopters.
Frontex said it had requested 670 extra officers – mainly screeners, debriefers and interpreters – to be deployed in those two countries as well as 105 other officers to be deployed at various external land borders of the European Union.