April 18. 2024. 9:40

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Greece pledges to help islands of Crete, Gavdos handle surge in migrant arrivals

Greece’s conservative government promised on Monday (1 April) to offer extra financial aid and more staff to help the island of Crete and its tiny neighbour Gavdos handle a steep rise in arrivals of migrants trying to cross to Europe from Libya.

In recent months, the islands of Crete and Gavdos, the southern point of Greece and Europe, have seen an unprecedented surge in migrant flows mostly from Egypt, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Since January, more than 1,180 migrants have arrived on both islands, up from 686 for full-year 2023, Greek coast guard data showed. Neither Gavdos nor Crete have migrant reception facilities.

‘Pushed to the limit’: the tiny Greek island in people smugglers’ sights. Fears of a new migration route grow as more than 800 people land on Gavdos, population fewer than 70, in a few months. “No country or local community should be left alone” says UNHCR https://t.co/RiozBuiPl0 pic.twitter.com/esLSjHCDbj

— George Roussos (@baphometx) March 27, 2024

“Crete will not be left alone and even more so Gavdos, which is a very small island with few permanent residents,” Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis said after visiting both places.

“We are here to help the local community. The resources and the means are there.”

Last month, the European Union announced a €7.4 billion funding package and an upgraded relationship with Egypt, part of a push to stem migrant flows to Europe criticised by rights groups.

EU agrees to controversial €7.4bn migration deal with Egypt

European leaders and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have struck a deal to curb migration from Egypt, with the EU bloc agreeing to provide €7.4 billion in aid until 2027 to help manage migrant flows and boost the economy – a move criticised across the political spectrum, especially in Italy.

Greece has been a favoured gateway to the European Union for migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia since 2015 when nearly 1 million people landed on its islands, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Thousands of others died at sea.

Until recently, migrants had preferred islands further east near Turkey over Crete and Gavdos.

Read more with Euractiv

Montenegro’s ex-PM wants ‘productive’ EU with less ‘soft politics’ after elections

Montenegro’s ex-PM wants ‘productive’ EU with less ‘soft politics’ after elections

The European Commission needs to be more productive, more concrete, produce more results, and move away from ‘soft politics’, with hopes of a ‘refresh’ after the June European Elections, former prime minister and current leader of the opposition in Montenegro, Dritan Abazovic said in an interview.

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