Greece “can’t cope” with illegal aliens seeking asylum

From the Washington Times, my favorite paper, yesterday:

PATRAS, Greece — Every day since he arrived in Greece two years ago, Mohamadi al-Raza has woken up in this port city wishing he could make it across the Mediterranean to Italy.

The 24-year-old Afghan refugee, who said he fled his country “because of the wars, the mafias and the Taliban,” has lived for months inside a makeshift refugee encampment – a five-minute walk from the barbed-wire gates of the port.

Like thousands of other Afghan refugees, Mr. al-Raza is stuck on the threshold of Western Europe, because he landed first in Greece. Rules in the European Union won’t let him go any farther.

As part of his daily routine, Mr. al-Raza tries to creep into one of the trucks that leave the port on ferriesfive times a day for the Italian coast and comes back at night after another failed attempt. “It’s like a regular job,” he said.

Smugglers bring them to Greece on the frontier of Europe from all over Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Mr. al-Raza is one of about 1,300 Afghans in the encampment. Local nongovernmental organizations say most paid about $13,300 to smugglers to reach Patras, passing through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea.

According to the Patras coast guard, the Afghans are among 4,000 illegal immigrants waiting for a chance to sneak out of Greece. The others come from elsewhere in South Asia, Iraq and Somalia.

One of many pitfalls of being in the European Union is that illegal aliens must be processed in the first European country in which they land.    That is why besides Greece, the island of Malta which we have reported on extensively has had such a difficult time with thousands arriving illegally on its shores.  (Use our search function to learn more about Malta.)

Under EU rules, the first country an immigrant reaches is supposed to deal with asylum requests. However, Greece, which claims it has become the most targeted entry point into the European Union, is hardly ever the refugees’ preferred destination. Most would rather live in Germany, France, Britain or Sweden.

The local people have had enough.

At first, people were helpful with the migrants,” said Kristos Karapiperis, an official with the Greek Red Cross. But in 2006, the settlement reached an unprecedented size and people started to get afraid, he said.

“People actually began to see the camp,” which prompted protests amid the local population, he said, especially among truck drivers and employees of the ferry companies who resent the delays and the financial losses from illegal immigration.

“It’s creating a huge societal and economic problem,” said Konstantinos Bitsios, the general secretary of the Greek Interior Ministry. “I’m not ashamed to say we cannot cope with it,” he said, referring to the rise in asylum seekers and other illegal immigrants.

One thing Greece could do is get out of the European Union and set its OWN laws to protect its OWN country, but it won’t.

Previously we told you about immigrant violence in Greece here and here.

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