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EU Expands Frontex Mandate to Work in Third Countries

© REUTERS / Alkis KonstantinidisA refugee girl covered with a blanket and rescued at open sea prepares to disembark a Frontex patrol vessel at the port of Mytilene on the Lesbos island, Greece March 22, 2016.
A refugee girl covered with a blanket and rescued at open sea prepares to disembark a Frontex patrol vessel at the port of Mytilene on the Lesbos island, Greece March 22, 2016. - Sputnik International
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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - EU interior ministers agreed on Thursday to give the Frontex border protection agency a wider scope for cooperation with third countries on migrant repatriations.

"The EU is improving its return policy and its cooperation with third countries as part of its comprehensive approach to migration," the EU Council said in a press release.

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The new rules include the possibility of "deployment of border management and return teams from Frontex and for operations in the territory of third countries."

The agency will also provide technical and operational support to member states in return operations and assist them in the identification of third country nationals and the acquisition of travel documents.

European countries have been experiencing a severe migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers fleeing violence in the Middle East and North Africa.

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In September, a senior project manager at the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) Violeta Wagner told Sputnik that the reinforcement of Frontex border corps could likely increase the chance of migrant deaths as people will continue coming despite barriers. The ICMPD think tank stressed that people would still come despite barriers if they were pressed hard to leave their home countries.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the EU would send additional 10,000 more border guards to handle illegal migration at the bloc border.

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In Fall, Frontex started testing Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in Italy, Greece and Portugal as part of a border monitoring mission.

After the official closure of the so-called Western Balkans migration route (Greece-Macedonia-Serbia-Croatia) in 2016, refugees now travel to the EU countries through a new Balkan route, increasing pressure on the reception capacities of Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From January to the end of May 2018, authorities in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania registered over 6,700 new migrants and asylum-seekers.

However, the total number of undocumented migrant arrivals to the European Union has dropped by over 40 percent in the first seven months of 2018 in comparison to the same period last year, Frontex said in August.

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