ATHENS – Greece’s New Democracy government’s attempt to seal the borders off from refugees and migrants seeking asylum isn’t gap-proof but has blocked some 150,000 from getting in so far in 2022.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis told Eleftheros Typos that, “The entry … was averted since the start of the year. Around 50,000 attempted to invade Greece in August alone.”
He didn’t mention constant claims from human rights groups and activists that Greek is pushing them back as well, which he has denied, Turkey allowing human traffickers to keep sending them during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Under the agreement, Turkey is supposed to contain some 4.4 million people who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, primarily Syria and Afghanistan, but as far afield as Pakistan, Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa as well.
Since New Democracy came to power in July, 2019 snap elections in defeating the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has made a top priority of tightening borders.
That includes extending a wall along the Evros River on the land border with Turkey as well as stepping up patrols in the Aegean Sea to keep refugees and migrants from reaching nearby Greek islands, noted Agence France-Presse.
The government said the land border with Turkey will also be surveilled with thermal cameras and another 250 guards but hasn’t, as vowed, moved to put floating barriers around the island of Lesbos.
Mitarakis that Greece was making unlawful pushbacks and accused Turkey of engaging in “violent push forwards,” trying to burden Greece with more refugees and migrants, unpunished for it.