In the first five months of 2018 Greece has been Europe’s top entry point for refugees and migrants according to the most recent report from European Union border agency Frontex.
From January till May over 19,800 people entered Greece altogether while the land border crossing from Turkey to Greece saw a 90 per cent increase in crossings mainly from Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Frontex has warned that a new wave of mass migration could be coming to Europe via the eastern and western Mediterranean, calling for transnational cooperation to stop it during a meeting in Lower Austria in which Frontex’s Deputy Executive Director Berndt Körner claimed that the number of migrants was rising significantly both in the eastern part of the Mediterranean into Greece and in the west from North Africa.
In a press release published on Monday, the Frontext presented the data referring to the detection of irregular border-crossing at the external borders of the European Union.
“About 14,000 individuals were flown back to their home countries from EU states in 2017 in 341 flights and many of them would be looking to return to Europe through Turkey and into Greece,” Mr Körner stressed.
“The same person may attempt to cross the border several times in different locations at the external border.”
Even though fewer irregular border crossings were detected on the main migratory routes into the EU that last year (46 per cent less), there have been signs of growth in recent weeks, possibly due to improved weather conditions.
In Orestiada, a Greek town which lies near the land border with Turkey, Mayor Dimitris Mavrides complained that the area was being overrun with migrants in April. “Our reception facilities are overwhelmed and things are on the verge of spinning out of control. Far more are coming than are actually being registered,” he said.
“They are coming precisely because it is not part of the deal and because word has got out… If they get here and are processed, they are free to go anywhere on the mainland. We have four buses a day to Athens and Thessaloniki and they are full,” he added.
Frontex has also noted an emergence of new sub-routes via Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina, as well as from Serbia to Bosnia Herzegovina. This has been linked with increased migratory pressure in these countries in recent months and at the border between Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia.
At the same time Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced he would be forming an “Axis of the Willing” alongside German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Italian populist leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to strengthen the EU’s external border and fight illegal immigration.
Germany received 78,000 asylum applications in May – up 14,000 from the month before. The country’s migration intake threatens to bring the coalition government to collapse with Chancellor Angela Merkel being held accountable by Mr Seehofer.
Meanwhile, Guinea nationals accounted for the highest number of arrivals in Spain this year, followed by those from Morocco, Mali and the Ivory Coast. Tunisians and Eritreans were the two most represented nationalities on the route to Italy, together accounting for more than 37 per cent of all the detected migrants.