As Greek officials feared, the advent of warmer weather is seeing an uptick in the number of refugees and migrants coming from Turkey, by land and sea, the Executive Director of the European Union’s Frontex border patrol said.
Fabrice Leggeri told the German newspaper Bild that said arrivals of migrants from Turkey to Greece’s Aegean islands have increased by 17 percent in the past four to five weeks alone, most fleeing war and strife in Iran, Iraq and Syria.
He said Frontex would need to increase its border presence, which Greece has been asking for more than two years as the country is keeping more than 64,000 refugees and migrants in detention centers and camps, including some 15,000 on islands close to Turkey, which has allowed human traffickers to operate.
An EU swap deal with Turkey has seen only a relative handful of those deemed ineligible for asylum in Greece returned and growing tension and violence on the island camps in the wake of the suspended agreement.
The refugees and migrants head to Turkey in hopes of getting into the EU, usually through Greece, where the are stuck since other countries have closed their borders and reneged on promises to take some of the overload.
Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, whose administration has been excoriated by human rights groups and activists for what they said were inhumane conditions in the centers and camps was to take some of his Cabinet ministers to visit one on the island of Lesbos on May 2.
On a pan-European level, only 40 percent of repatriation decisions are carried out, said Leggeri, who added that despite the increase in in migration flows that Frontext has the EU’s external borders “under control,” without explaining why so many are coming to Greece if that’s the case.