The aim of the study visit organized within the framework of the European Migration Network was to see the hotspot and related facilities set up on the island of Kos in Greece. We also wanted to get acquainted with the work of the Greek authorities and the work of EU agencies supporting the authorities and other international organizations.
The visit took place on 28-30 August 2018, following preliminary consultations with the Greek authorities and with an expert from the EU Commission Directorate General for Migration and Internal Affairs (DG Home).
The hotspot is located nearby Pili, around 2 km to the east from the village. On the day of the visit the site accommodated 1208 persons which was beyond its accommodating capacity of 900 people. The majority of the people were Iraqis (42%), Syrians (25%) and Palestinians (10%). As a result of recent changes, new nationalities, especially from North Africa and the Sahel region, have emerged. These nationalities were not typical on the island in previous years. The head of the facility informed us that in the recent period, the number of families has increased and the number of single men has decreased.
Within the hotspot, the Greek authorities are assisted by Frontex, EASO, Europol, UNHCR and some NGOs. The cooperation between local authorities and between local authorities and the representatives of international organisations is excellent. The Greek authorities highly appreciate and find the contribution of EU and other international organisations indispensable, in their view managing the hot-spot and the fight against illegal migration would not be possible. In the hotspot there are 13 officials deployed from Frontex: 5 persons provide assistance at taking fingerprints, 3 during screening, 1 person controls the documents, 1 person drafts reports and 3 persons work as interpreters and cultural moderators (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu).
Afterwards we visited the main embarkation points on the island. The police officer in charge showed us around and explained that between the most easterly point of the island and Turkey the distance is only 4,5 km. Illegal migrants can cross easily by any kind of water transport, eg. plastic boats, kayak or even swimming. On the whole coast of the island during 24 hours the Greek Coast Guards and the Frontex was present.
The visit on the hot spot gave us a vivid picture about the challenges that the member states and EU legislators will have to face in the near future. The study visit helped us to get a clearer picture of how hot spots work and the activities of EU agencies assisting them.