Athens protests as Ankara loosens controls at Evros border, 12,000 migrants reach Greece in 2018
'There is great pressure at the Evros border. At the same time, direct communications on site between the Greek and Turkish sides has been cut off, further aggravating the problem,' said one Greek public order ministry official.
Greek authorities have charged that Ankara has loosened border controls at the Greek-Turkish land border in the Evros region, leading to a major leap in the number of migrants entering Greece.
Athens has filed complaints with both Ankara and Brussels.
“There is great pressure at the Evros border. At the same time, direct communications on site between the Greek and Turkish sides has been cut off, further aggravating the problem,” one Greek Citizen’s Protection Ministry (public order) official told the daily Kathimerini, attributing the great increase of the number of migrants entering Greece via Evros to that situation.
The report said that Athens has lodged complaints with both the EU and Turkey, in a bid to secure a tighter border, and that a representative of the European Commission visited Ankara in order to raise the issue with Turkish authorities.
Meanwhile, the Citizen’s Protection Ministry is concerned about information indicating that 500,000 Afghan nationals have migrated to Turkey from Iran and Iraq, which has fueled concerns about a prospective increase of pressure at Greece’s northern borders.
The increased activity of rings transporting migrants is revealed in the data on Greek Police arrests over recent months.
Between January and August, 2018, Greek Police arrested 1,010 human smugglers. In September, 180 were arrested, and another 30 in the first week of October.
Greek Police sources say that Bulgarian, FYROM, and Albanian human smuggling rings are active at Greece’s borders.
Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas last week presented data in parliament showing that in 2016, 3,300 migrants came to Greece through the Evros border region.
In 2017, that number climbed to 5,500, and skyrocketed to 12,000 migrants that entered Greece in the first nine months of 2018.