NEWS

People traffickers having field day at Evros border

STAVROS TZIMAS

TAGS: Migration

As reactions to the transfer of migrants from the islands to the mainland intensify, local protests are also mounting in northern Greece over increasing arrivals from Turkey across the Evros River.

In the latest round of reactions, citizens movements from the northeastern towns of Komotini, Alexandroupoli and Didymoteicho in the region of Thrace will be staging a rally on Monday at the Kipoi crossing on the Greek-Turkish border. Organizers say the rally will also include a human chain.

According to local reports, the recent surge of migrants in the area is attributed to a rush to cross the Evros before heavy winter sets in and water levels rise.

The latest data show that in the last month alone 1,525 refugees and migrants and 72 traffickers were arrested in Thrace.

Those that do manage to cross the Greek-Turkish border, are said to move in groups of three, five and even 10, traveling overnight in the direction of Thessaloniki, either on foot, in smugglers’ vehicles on the Egnatia Highway or on the railway.

In a statement, the Police Officers’ Association of Rodopi said that migrants use technology to avoid central roadblocks and, as a result, many move through remote rural areas, “causing disruptions to residents who do not know their intentions.”

The organizers of today’s rally claim that crime levels have also risen in tandem with the arrivals, saying that locals frequently report petty thefts of farm produce and damage to fields, trees and crops.

Sources told Kathimerini that international trafficking gangs congregate at the border with Turkey and hire Bulgarian, Moldovan, Iraqi, Syrian, Moroccan but also Greek and North Macedonian smugglers to transfer migrants and refugees into the hinterland.

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