Greece Increases Border Patrols over Fear of Illegal Immigrants from Egypt January 31, 2011Posted by Yilan in Egypt, Turkey, Yunanistan.
Tags: Egypt, Greece, Turkey
Greece is increasing its border patrols over fears that the crisis in Egypt would trigger a wave of illegal immigrants, entering from Turkey.
Greece has announced it is increasing its sea and land border patrols over fears that the crisis in Egypt might trigger a wave of illegal immigrants to Europe.
Christos Papoutsis, the Greek Minister for Citizen Protection, said Monday that authorities provided an increased number of patrols at the border with Turkey in the last 24 hours, Greek DPA news agency reported.
Papoutsis added that there has not been an increase in the number of illegal immigrants from North Africa yet, but noted that this could change suddenly.
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants see Greece as their destination. Only last year, their number was 128,000, the highest in all EU member states.
The country has accused Turkey of failing to stop the wave of illegal immigrantsentering Greece and ignoring an agreement to accept the return of detained immigrants.
In December 2010, the Greek government announced it was considering fencing off its territory along its Turkish border to beat back the influx of illegal immigrantsinto the EU.
However, at the beginning of 2011, Papoutsis indicated a project for building a 12.5-km-long and 3-m-high fence along the most problematic section of theGreece–Turkey border near the Maritsa river and the Greek town of Orestiada.
In the period of just six months up till the end of November, 33 000 illegal immigrants have been detected crossing the Greek-Turkish land border. Most are from Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Iraq.
Officials have stated that, in 2010, an average of ‘200 refugees each day’ had crossed into Greece from Turkey.
Around 80 per day of the illegal immigrants in the EU arrive via Greece. Large numbers then seek to reach Italy via ferry. There are currently an estimated 300,000 people living illegally in Greece.
Greece‘s facilities for the detention of illegal migrants have been the matter of criticism by international human rights NGOs.
In November 2010, police from across the EU arrived in Greece to patrol its borderwith Turkey against illegal immigrants as part of the continued “Joint Operation Poseidon” of Frontex, EU’s border control agency.
Police officers and equipment from Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Denmark deployed along the border with Turkey in NortheasternGreece, which is a major point of entry into the EU for illegal immigrants.
The mission is expected to last till March 2011 and is focusing on policing a previously unguarded 12-km section of a river border between the towns of Nea Vyssa and Orestiada, on the Maritsa River.
This is the first time a rapid-intervention border team has been deployed to an EU member state since the Frontex teams were created in 2007.
Frontex, the EU agency based in Warsaw, coordinating the operational cooperation between member states in the field of border security under the European Patrol Network project, has agreed to place 175 police officers from across the EU after last month Greece requested from it help to cope with the growing number of refugees from African countries, Iraq and Afghanistan penetrating through its river and landborder with Turkey.
Bulgaria, which has a longer land border with Turkey than Greece, has not detected a substantial increase of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the EU even though the Bulgarian border police occasionally capture small groups of illegal migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
EU’s Joint Operation Poseidon started in 2006 as a purely sea-based operation patrolling the coastal waters between Greece and Turkey. Since the beginning of 2010, Poseidon has also had a land-based component covering the Greek and Bulgarian land borders with Turkey — now confirmed as the dominant country of transit for irregular migration into the EU.
At the beginning of January, Bulgaria joined Greece‘s intentions to build birder fences along the borders with Turkey. However, Bulgaria‘s decision was triggered by the spread of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which came from a wild boar that was killed in southern Bulgaria, near the border with Turkey.
However, Turkey has met with suspicion the intentions of the two countries to build fences. According to the Chairman of Turkish Center for International Relations and Strategic Analysis, Sinan Ogan, the two countries have hidden agendas.