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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-08

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Refugee camp at Idomeni: nothing like Glastonbury, bar the mud
  • [02] Sea cruise association expects less passengers this year
  • [03] NATO force begins patrols along Turkish coast to control traffickers

  • [01] Refugee camp at Idomeni: nothing like Glastonbury, bar the mud

    With their numbers at 13,000 and counting, overnight rain brought more misery for the refugees now literally stuck at the camp in Idomeni, near the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Stuck at the border and stuck in the mud, their hopes of crossing the border were evaporating a great deal faster than the water from the rain-soaked blankets that they spread out in the sun to dry on Tuesday morning.

    FYROM authorities have kept the passage to the no-man's land closed since Monday, allowing no one through, and no one knows when and under with what conditions the flow of refugees will resume.

    People's faces were visibly haggard after a night of battling to keep their families dry, digging ditches around the tents in an effort to keep the water away. The day for most began with the usual making of the tea over open fires, with water boiled in tin cans, and then lining up to queue for food.

    The longest line was in front of the non-governmental aid organisation Praksis, which hands out 18,000 sandwiches - two for each adult and one for each child - with cheese, lettuce and egg. The camp is also still growing, with dozens more tents going up in adjacent fields. Despite the appeals made by aid workers, no one wants to leave and temporarily go to a relocation centre, where the conditions are much better.

    Only a few say they have decided to apply for the relocation programme, for which they must have earlier applied for asylum in order to qualify.

    The only relief for those at the camp comes from the volunteers that come from all over the world to help in any way they can. Among them a group of young people from Denmark, Germany, UK and the United States that first met on the Aegean island of Lesvos and then followed the refugees to Idomeni, setting up a tent next to a caravan and daily making and handing out hot tea.

    [02] Sea cruise association expects less passengers this year

    The Association of Cruise Shipowners and Shipping Agencies met with Shipping and Island Policy Minister Theodore Dritsas and discussed developments in the port of Piraeus ahead of the summer season and government initiatives regarding migrants and refugees temporarily accomodated in the port's passenger terminals.

    Association members said that sea cruise reservations were down for this summer, with Th. Kontes, president of the Association speaking to ANA-MPA stressing that some companies, such as AIDA, cancelled their arrivals to Greece -following terrorist attacks in Turkey- and turned to western Mediterranean destinations. He noted that Greece will have around 350-400,000 less sea cruise passengers this year compared with 2015.

    Kontes said the sea cruise companies asked for better docking facilities in the port of Santorini.

    [03] NATO force begins patrols along Turkish coast to control traffickers

    The NATO force in the Aegean on Tuesday began patrols along the Turkish coast to control and stop the lines to Greece used by refugee and migrant traffickers.

    The commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2), Rear Admiral Jorg Klein, was given diplomatic permission to enter Turkey's territorial waters on Monday night. Negotiations between the EU and Turkey were still underway in Brussels at the time, while the NATO Secretary General had talks on the same day with the Turkish prime minister and the Greek defence minister.

    The SNMG2 flagship, the German frigate 'FGS-BONN', began patrols northeast of Lesvos in Turkish waters early on Tuesday morning, acting mainly on the information it was given by the Greek National Defence General Staff, the Hellenic Navy and the Hellenic Coast Guard about the movements of traffickers and migrants to the Greek islands.

    The information was handed over to Rear Admiral Klein and NATO Maritime Command Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Giorgio Lazio during their recent visit to Athens.

    Of the other ships in the SNMG2, the Turkish frigate "TCG-Barbaros" (F-244) is stationed between the Greek islands of Kos and Astypalaia, the Greek frigate "Salamis" is sailing off the island of Agios Efstratios, the British tanker "Mount1 Bay" is in the central Aegean between the islands of Andros and Chios, awaiting orders.

    Also due to join the NATO operation are two more British ships and a French frigate, while a Canadian and Italian ship currently in Italy are scheduled to return.


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