Greece has blocked the entry of more than 150,000 undocumented migrants at its land and sea borders since the start of the year, Greece’s Migration Minister said on Sunday (4 September).
“The entry of 154,102 irregular migrants has been prevented since the beginning of the year. About 50 000 attempted to enter Greece in August alone”Notis Mitarachi told the daily Eleftheros Typos.
Border control is one of the main priorities of the conservative Greek government which came to power in 2019 and is aiming for re-election next year.
The government last month announced plans to extend a 40 km wall along the Greek-Turkish border marked by the Evros River by another 80 km as part of efforts to control the flow of migrants.
It will also install thermal cameras and deploy 250 additional border guards.
Greece is often the country of choice for people fleeing Africa and the Middle East to try to find a better life in the European Union.
Thousands of people pass through Turkey crossing the Evros or attempting the perilous crossing of the Aegean Sea.
Greece has been repeatedly criticized for alleged illegal pushbacks of migrants to Turkey on its land and sea border, according to victim testimonies published by NGOs, AFP and other media. But Athens has always denied these accusations.
Mr Mitarachi on Sunday denied that Athens was involved in illegal pushbacks of migrants, accusing Turkey of forcing them across the border.
In August, he accused Turkey of having forced a group of migrants to cross the border into Greek territory, declaring that Ankara had not rescued this group when it was initially on Turkish territory.
The group of migrants was stranded on a small islet in the middle of Evros.
Human rights groups said at the time that a five-year-old child who was part of the group had died after the Greek government had denied for days that migrants were on Greek territory.
Mr. Mitarachi expressed doubts about this incident.
On Sunday, he insisted the family in question said they had four children and they had all been rescued by Greek police.
“To put it very simply, the family brought four children and we saved four”did he declare.
“Many inconsistencies were noted in what (the family) said at the beginning, what they said afterwards, and in what has been proven so far”added the minister.
Sursa articolului in engleza: Greece has blocked the entry of more than 150,000 migrants this year