Fabrice Leggeri: “We are concerned about human trafficking and gun smuggling”
Frontex Executive Director gave an interview to the Greek newspaper ‘’To Vima’’ and talked about the risks of increased trafficking of human beings and gun smuggling that come with the war in Ukraine. Mr Leggeri talked also about the support Frontex provides to the countries bordering Ukraine. The interview preceded his participation in the Delphi Economic Forum that will take place in Greece from 6 to 9 April.
Below are the most important quotes from the interview:
• “The Russian invasion in Ukraine created a new geopolitical situation affecting the borders of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia as well as Moldova. Romania has asked for the largest support from the Agency and we deploy there about 200 officers to swiftly process people arriving from Ukraine. In addition, Frontex supports Poland and Romania with the organisation of humanitarian voluntary return flights for non-Ukrainian people fleeing Ukraine such as Indian students and legal workers from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kirgizstan”.
• “We started deploying our officers to Moldova thanks to the Status Agreement signed by the European Commission and Moldova. Prior to this agreement, we could only send monitors and advisors who could not check travel documents. The status agreement was concluded in two weeks whereas others in the Western Balkans took 2-3 years to finalise”.
• “Historically, the border between EU countries and Ukraine was rather known for smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol, but now it raises concerns of human trafficking. We have information about the criminals operating in the area are trying to find victims among the refugees which are mainly women and children. There is also high risk of gun smuggling from Ukraine to the EU and from the Western Balkans to Ukraine through the EU”.
• “The city of Alexandroupolis in Greece, which is close to both land and sea border, was selected for a pilot aerostat project. The aerostat has censors that collect information to identify illegal border crossings or movements. We also tested a biometric technology to check passengers without stopping them. Passengers disembarking planes walk in special corridors where cameras check their biometric passports in their pockets”.
• “Frontex deploys 473 officers in Greece, 37 vehicles and 17 vessels. Sometimes, we deploy thermal vision vehicles to identify illegal crossings mostly in the land border and close to the shores as well. Usually, in Evros there is a heartbeat detector which is used to find people hidden in vehicles or trains. There are no drones operating in Greece yet, but soon our second largest unmanned aircraft will be sent to Crete. It will monitor a large operational area in the Eastern Mediterranean where there is an increase in boats carrying migrants from Turkey to Italy or smuggling goods”.
• “Greece seems to have the situation under control in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus is facing a lot of pressure compared to its population. Migrants are flying from Turkey to the northern side and then they cross the Green Line. Frontex supports Cyprus in checks and returns to third countries”.