Emergency measures to deal with an anticipated new wave of migrants and refugees

Emergency measures to deal with an anticipated new wave of migrants and refugees entering Greece were decided at a government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday, with the government stressing that it was “above all a humanitarian issue.”

“Recently, an increased influx of refugees has been observed for the same reasons that, at the same exact period, there has been a strongly rising trend of refugee influx to Italy as well,” government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said, after the meeting on Tuesday.

“From the initial records, it appears that the motive of the majority of these people is not financial hardship, but an immediate threat to their lives,” Sakellaridis said.

He added that in the meeting it was decided that:

– Newly-arrived migrants will be transported from the islands to mainland Greece, where authorities will distinguish between migrants and refugees.

– Syrian refugees who qualify for asylum will be given all necessary documents immediately.

– A plan was approved to create special covered areas in camps and existing facilities where all necessary medical examinations will be carried out and all health and safety rules observed.

– In view of the EU Summit and the relevant ministerial council meeting, the government will carry out all necessary actions in order to manage in the framework of European solidarity the influx of migrants and refugeees to Europe and to ensure the proportionate distribution of refugees among all EU countries.

“The refugee issue is international, not just Greek,” the spokesman said, adding that “it requires seriousness, calmness and above all a humanitarian attitude. At this point, political games and gratuitous populism with human lives is unacceptable.”

Ministers attending Tuesday’s meeting on migration issues included Interior and Administration Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis, Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis, Alternate Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou, Admiral Athanassios Athanassopoulos from the Port Authority, a deputy chief of the Port Authority (Nikolaos Patrinos), and a special counsellor to the European Commissioner on Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos.