Plan to foil mass migrant entry from Turkey

Hellenic Police and Coast Guard elaborating scenarios in case of repeat of 2020 Evros incident 

Plan to foil mass migrant entry from Turkey

Amid rising acrimony with Turkey, plans are being drafted to deal with the possibility of an attempted mass entry of migrants into Greece at the instigation of Ankara in a repeat of the spring 2020 incident at the Evros land border.

More specifically, police authorities have updated the contingency plan they prepared last year, which provides for different levels of response depending on migration pressure. 

One level foresees deployment of uniformed border police along the Evros border. This deployment has already begun given there is a 20% increase in migration pressure compared to last year. At the second level, the plan provides for reinforcements of uniformed officers from the regional units of Xanthi and Rodopi, while in case of a general crisis, police officers from all over northern Greece will also be dispatched to the area. 

The plan also foresees the relocation and efficient use of technical means. For example, it provides for the relocation by the Directorate of Police Operations in Athens of police water cannons to Evros, which were used during the 2020 incident, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles, in addition to those already at the disposal of the Orestiada and Alexandroupoli police departments. 

Competent police sources have told Kathimerini tear gas and flash grenades are already being transported from the central warehouses of the Hellenic Police Headquarters to the services in Evros, while there are suggestions for the procurement of additional material. 

As far as the eastern Aegean is concerned, coast guard officials have in the last few days received information about the concentration of approximately 400-500 migrants on the Turkish coast near Cesme. 

Greek officials consider it probable these migrants will in the coming days attempt to board sailing boats bound for Italy. 

The movements of the migrants also hinge on the weather and the expected weakening of the winds, which makes it easier to cross the Aegean to the east coast of Italy. Something similar had happened about 10 days ago when within a few hours five sailing boats had been located in the sea area between the islands of Samos and Chios.

As a precaution, the coast guard has intensified patrols in the sea area in question, while the activation of a hired Israeli drone based at Tympaki Airport on Crete is expected in the next few days.

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