A crackdown on the influx of undocumented immigrants entering Greece via the land border with Turkey has apparently resulted in people smugglers changing their routes as increasing numbers of migrants are being intercepted on the islands of the Aegean, authorities say.
This month police and coast guard officers detained 146 undocumented immigrants on the islands of Symi, Farmakonisi, Samos and Lesvos, compared to 68 on the islands of the Dodecanese in the first half of this year. On Tuesday, 40 migrants – chiefly Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians – were stopped on Symi and 39 – mostly Afghans – on Farmakonisi.
Meanwhile illegal arrivals have plummeted in the northern region of Evros, where the presence of border guards has been boosted, with just two migrants stopped on August 25 and 26 compared to 447 on August 2.
Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias told Parliament on Tuesday that talks aimed at revising the Dublin II regulation – which stipulates that migrants apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter – were not progressing in Greece’s favor. Athens has lobbied for the regulation to be revised, arguing that it puts a disproportionately large burden on Greece’s shoulders.
As the influx of migrants into the country continues unabated, the number of apparently racially motivated attacks has increased. A young Bangladeshi suffered extensive injuries on Tuesday after being set upon by a group of men in the southern coastal suburb of Flisvos. Witnesses said the assailants drew up on motorcycles before kicking, beating and stabbing the migrant.
A separate attack against a 30-year-old Egyptian in Manolada, in Ileia in the Peloponnese, was condemned by the Communist Party (KKE) yesterday as “raw racist violence.” Two Greek men were arrested for the assault on Saturday during which the migrant had his head jammed into the window of a car door before being dragged for around 1 kilometer.