Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas presented data in Parliament last week showing that the number of migrants entering Greece through the Evros border from Turkey has sky-rocketed.
According to the report, 3,300 migrants came to Greece through the Evros border region in 2016 while in 2017 that number climbed to 5,500.
In the first nine months of 2018, however, it appears that 12,000 migrants entered Greece through that point alone. The actual number is likely to be even higher as some entries remain unrecorded.
“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.
Greece has also lodged complaints to both the EU and Turkey; a European Commission representative has visited Ankara to discuss the matter with Turkish authorities as Greek authorities insist that Ankara has loosened border controls at the Greek-Turkish land border in the Evros region, leading to an increased number of entries into Greece.
Meanwhile, between January and August, 2018, Greek Police arrested 1,010 smugglers illegally transporting migrants; 180 more were arrested in September, and another 30 in the first week of October.
While Greek Police records show Turkish, Bulgarian, FYROM, and Albanian human smuggling rings infiltrating Greece’s borders the Citizen’s Protection Ministry raises another concern, in regards to 500,000 Afghan nationals having migrated to Turkey from Iran and Iraq, likely to increase pressure at Greece’s northern border.