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Greece Plans Borders Shield to Keep Out More Afghan Refugees

Anticipating that Turkey may try to use an expected wave of refugees fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan as a bargaining chip, Greek authorities are said to beefing up land and sea borders to keep them out.

After the lighting-fast fall of Afghanistan, abandoned by the United States and NATO to its fate, Turkey is also tightening its borders, the country already holding 4.4 million refugees and migrants it's supposed to contain under an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

But Turkey has continued to let human traffickers keep operating and sending people to five Greek islands near Turkey's coast and in February 2020 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent 10,000 migrants to the land border along the Evros River, urging them to try to cross.

They were stymied by Greek riot police and army units but the government is trying to insure the crossing there is sealed while urging compassion for Afghan refugees that the EU doesn't want.

Greek law enforcement, the Coat Guard and military are drafting plans to police and shield the Evros land border and the eastern Aegean, said Kathimerini, discussed at a Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA.)

The defense plans would be similar to those used in 2020 that successfully held back migrants who tossed Molotov Cocktails over a border fence, Greek forces firing tear gas in return. 

Police sources told Kathimerini that the construction of the 27-kilometer-long (16.77 mile) fence at Evros has already been completed, as well as the installation and operation of the automated border surveillance system.

The system includes 11 new cameras and radar, and can see up to 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) inside Turkish territory and transfer images to the Hellenic Police (ELAS) operational centers along the border.

Police said patrols and surveillance will be stepped up and are preparing an arsenal to defend the borders, including tear gas and stun grenades that could be used against migrants fleeing the ferocity of the Taliban, who would be repelled.

A police source not named said that drones have already been activated to monitor the border and that the military will send units there in a show of force to build up the shield.

It's harder to patrol the Aegean but the Coast Guard will add additional personnel and vessels to look out for rubber dinghies and rickety craft that Turkish human traffickers use to send refugees and migrants to Greek islands.

“We have to make it clear that our stance will be decisive,” said a senior official who was not named, and reports said Greece may suspend asylum applications filed by virtually all of the nearly 100,000 refugees and migrants in detention centers and camps on the mainland and islands.

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The National Herald’s Happenings of the Week (Jan 15 – Jan 21) as have been reported at the print and digital editions of TNH and presented by the TNH Editor Eraklis Diamataris.

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