Joint teams of police officers and their coast guard counterparts entered a sprawling migrant reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Chios on Friday, detaining more than 20 people in an effort to trace those who have had their asylum appeals rejected.
The operation was deemed necessary due to the fact the Souda camp has grown in recent months as arrivals of migrants from neighboring Turkey have continued to trickle in spite of an agreement between the European Union and Ankara aimed at curbing human smuggling across the Aegean. The coast guard joined the Greek Police as the tents now reach the seashore, which falls under the former’s remit.
Tensions have been rising on Chios, which is currently favored by human smugglers ferrying migrants over from Turkey, with an increasing number of violent incidents at overcrowded state reception centers and local residents’ tolerance wearing thin.
Following the signing of the EU-Turkish agreement in March last year, arrivals of migrants from Turkey fell by 97 percent. Around 60 migrants arrive every day, compared to thousands just over a year ago. However, the new arrivals are entering facilities that are already overcrowded and the slow rate of processing asylum claims means many are stuck in local camps for months.