07:14 GMT17 February 2020
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    Greece, once nicknamed the "basket case" of Europe during its financial crisis, now risks becoming a "black box" for thousands of migrants, according to the country's Prime Minister.

    The pressure is on for Greece, which is already struggling to cope with 700,000 migrants and refugees who have arrived on its shores this year. The Dutch government wants Athens to double its reception capacity from 50,000 to 100,000 next year under its pending presidential leadership of the European Union.

    Greece has received US$ 32 million (€30m) in emergency EU aid to help deal with the crisis on its mainland borders and island shores — but the Mediterranean country is accused of being too slow and incapable of protecting its borders properly.

    Dead bodies of migrants who drowned trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos pile up in the island's morgues, with burial space running low. Scores of life-jackets are left abandoned and strewn along its shores, as violence regularly erupts between refugees and migrants on Greece's border with Macedonia.

    And as US$3.35 billion (€3bn) of European Union money makes its way to nearby Turkey, following an agreement between Brussels and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees into Greece, Alexis Tsipras warned EU leaders that the deal with Turkey was not easing the pressure on Greece.

    And the cash strapped country at the heart of the 2015 Eurozone crisis — which was nicknamed the "basket case" of the European Union — now risks becoming a "black box" for tens of thousands of refugees, says Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    "Greece stands accused of not being able to protect its border, but they [other EU countries] do not tell us what they expect us to do. We are doing our best to tackle this problem without discounting any of our values. But Greece is in danger of becoming a black box for refugees if these flows do not decrease," Tsipras told reporters.

    A report examining the EU deal with Turkey suggested that the number of people heading to Greece had not dropped.

    "In December, the number of registered arrivals by sea from Turkey to Greece remains at an average level of approximately 4,000 persons per day. This is a slight reduction if compared to the high numbers of November (5,000-6,000 per day). This decrease may, however, also be attributed to other factors," said the report seen by EU leaders.

    As winter takes hold and waters become more dangerous, it's predicted fewer refugees and migrants attempt to make the journey by sea to Europe — but thousands still do — with the majority still heading for Greece.

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    refugee crisis, Greek debt crisis, Eurozone, pressure, humanitarian crisis, warning, chaos, aid, border, European Union, Alexis Tsipras, Europe, Turkey, Mediterranean Sea, Greece
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