The potential retaking of Mosul from Islamic State has prompted Julian King, the EU Security Commissioner to warn Europe of a possible influx if radical jihadists.
“The retaking of the IS northern Iraq stronghold, Mosul, may lead to the return to Europe of violent IS fighters,” King told German newspaper Die Welt.
Even the return of a relatively small number of jihadists would pose a “serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for,” he said.
Greece of course is on the frontline of Europe’s borders already burdened by the humanitarian crisis with over 50,000 registered refugees currently in the country.
In the event of a jihadi influx into Europe, it is unclear of the relative burden Greece would bear, but as most intelligence reports suggest, including the recent Interpol report on terrorism, Greece is not considered a destination but rather a transit route into Europe for any such groups.
Iraqi forces aim to topple IS’s so-called “caliphate” in a US-led offensive.
Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said that up to a million civilians could flee the city in the worst-case scenario, with 700,000 requiring shelter, 10 times the capacity of emergency sites.
“Our capacity to support 700,000 people in the short term, we couldn’t do it,” she said. “And certainly if we had to mount a response over the intermediate term, if they couldn’t go back to Mosul quickly, if there was too much damage in the city, then it would test us to the breaking point.”
US President Barack Obama said a top priority is safety and humanitarian aid for some 1 million people who live in Mosul and could suffer during the fighting.