Meet Ferenc, a Hungarian police officer taking part in Frontex rapid border intervention in Greece. He works shoulder-to-shoulder with Greek officers at the land border with Turkey.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, we are being extremely careful. Before every shift, Greek health workers measure our body temperature to screen for possible cases of infections. It is very strange for me to not shake hands with our colleagues from other countries when we meet at the beginning of the duties. Normally in Hungary this is very rude, but in the current situation, of course, this is the right behaviour.
"I wash my hands very often, wear a face mask and try to keep as much distance from other people as possible.
It is difficult to get used to these measures, but I am well aware that they are needed in the current situation.
At the end of one of the shifts, on the way back to the hotel, the Greek people stepped out onto the streets and applauded us, expressing their gratitude for supporting them in protecting Europe's borders. It was probably the most fantastic feeling of my professional career that I will remember in my whole life.”
Meet Tommy, a police officer from Denmark. Recently, Tommy took part in a Frontex operation as a first-line expert at the land border crossing point in Narva, Estonia - one of the busiest crossings between the EU and Russia. He helped his Estonian colleagues with screening and document checking.
“My deployment in Narva was quite unusual because of the COVID-19 outbreak. We had to observe strict safety measures at the border: wear gloves and face masks, keep a proper distance from travellers and check their temperature with infrared thermometers.
“I have been part of this game since the beginning of 2008 so I have a wide experience with document screening, debriefing, and as Frontex support officer. I was deployed many times in Italy and Greece.
“This kind of cooperation reflects the key idea behind Frontex missions: to protect external Schengen/EU borders by bringing together border guards from across Europe who can share experience and their unique skills.”
Meet Werner, a chief inspector of the German police taking part in a Frontex operation on the Greek island of Chios. He is working as a Frontex Support Officer, making sure the operation is running safely and smoothly.
“Working in Frontex operations means teamwork and close, personal cooperation not only with the Greek officers, but with colleagues from all around Europe. This is especially true for a person in my position.
But when dealing with COVID-19 nowadays, avoiding personal contact with your own team members is what makes it particularly challenging. It is our duty to take care of each of us and to lead by example, just being professional. Most types of conversations, meetings and exchanges take place via telephone or Skype.
“One thing that this situation has made me appreciate is that often small and seemingly unimportant things, especially in difficult times, are the most important. Like your health.”