Where are fake passports to seek asylum?

Refugees in Athens : Off to Germany with forged papers

He has a lot of problems under his belt, dragging them through the gray streets of Patission, one of the run-down inner-city areas of Athens. Starting with the place to sleep, which he has to look for anew every week, to this kidney disease that is untreated and hurts him. Not to mention the civil war, the torn family, the ruined life. But the biggest hurdle Elias is now facing is 2500 euros.

At least that is what the young Syrian needs for a false passport and a plane ticket to Germany. And he needs her quickly. On March 15, the EU Commission and the German government want the Dublin Agreement to come into force again. Then the miraculous gate closes through which refugees leave the airport in Athens for Europe every day - quickly and safely.

One phone call is all it takes to meet a middleman on Omonia Square or around Victoria Square in downtown Athens. The money comes in a safe. Payment is only made if it works. If the customer has cheated past the controls with his false ID and is sitting in the machine, on the way to another country in the Schengen zone. Where the economy and the asylum bureaucracy work, it is different from Greece.

“It's our only chance,” says Elias. “This is a poor country.” The 28-year-old Syrian has been looking for work to keep himself afloat for months and can't find anything. “You can't live here,” he says. “It would take me ten or 15 years to start over in Greece.” Germany is the future, Greece the eternal crisis. “If you walk around here in the streets, you will see the many empty buildings and offices. These are the Greeks who went to Europe. ”The refugees are just imitating them, he means to say. Elias, the refugee, is registered, but submerged. From the Aegean island, where he was supposed to be interned like 15,000 others, he made it to Athens. He wants to go to his two brothers in Germany.

Athens tug industry arranges everything for cash

Athens tug industry arranges everything for cash - around the clock: the right ID for your face, the less controlled flight to Madrid or Bratislava, for a surcharge also a bus and hotel for the onward journey to Germany. If the flight succeeds, the traveler reports to his tug and passes on the code for the safe. If he fails, he gets a new false ID and a ticket for the next attempt. Payment is only made if it is successful. All of this is possible in Athens.

The police at Eleftheros Venizelos airport in Athens singles out 50 to 100 immigrants, or 200 illegally on peak days. German police officers stopped around 2000 passengers there in 2016, according to the Interior Ministry in Berlin. Two officials were posted to Athens to assist the Greeks, and a third to Thessaloniki airport; they are usually at the gates to the flights to Germany, the most important destination for the refugees. But the smugglers know that too. You are also familiar with the lines where the ground staff prefer to look twice at the ID.

6,000 passengers with false documents were noticed on the Greek airline Aegean Airlines in 2016. That would be an average of 16 to 17 refugees a day with just this one airline. How many get through undetected can hardly be reconstructed. "That is the number of unreported cases," says a police officer from another EU country in Athens. There is one clue: 29,000 Syrians reported to the authorities in Germany in 2016 after the closure of the Balkan route and the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey. Under these circumstances, it is doubtful that the official information from the Greek asylum authority of currently 62,000 refugees in the country is correct: refugees fly out of Greece every day.

Elias made himself known. He tells of the smugglers in their offices who have piles of identity cards on the table: stolen, sold, lost, forged. Passports are more expensive, identical identity papers for spouses or mother and child cost a lot more. From 4000 euros upwards. Around 40 flights now go from Athens to the Schengen countries every day in winter. Syrians, who - unlike Elias - have money and are preparing to jump, report of 200 refugees who take the underground to the airport every day and try to leave because of the ultimatum with the Dublin Agreement.

Sometimes there are words of encouragement for those caught

Marwan, a 23-year-old Syrian whose two sisters managed to leave the country months ago, has just made his fourth attempt. The last thing he tried was a Greek identity card, a light blue cloth shrink-wrapped in plastic with a black and white photo. A Greek police officer stopped him. Refugees who are exposed do not sit in the police station for an hour. Forged passports are destroyed, authentic ones are sent to the consulates of the countries in Athens. As a rule, there is no criminal complaint. "You are friendly to us," say Syrians of the Greek police officers. Sometimes there are even encouraging words: "Just try again."

A request from the Tagesspiegel to the Greek police was not answered. Likewise, Europol did not comment on the establishment of a center to combat human smugglers in 2016. Police officers from other EU countries who are on duty in Athens show understanding for their Greek colleagues. Complete control at the airport is unrealistic, they say. The risk that extremists or “threats” will manage to exit through the revolving door of Athens is real. One official says: "If, for example, a family with young children who has no experience with smugglers and forged passports can do this, then it is certainly not a problem for professionals."

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