NEWS

Frontex set to boost Aegean patrols

The European Union?s border monitoring agency Frontex is planning to boost its presence at Greek and Italian frontiers to curb an increased flow of immigrants into the EU from strife-torn North African countries.

Expressing concern about the ?extremely unstable? situation in North Africa, the agency said it would boost the size of its Poseidon operation in the Aegean to include the island of Crete, which is close to Libya.

According to sources, Portugal already has contributed a helicopter and Romania has sent vessels to fortify regional sea patrols.

The agency?s statistics show that a Frontex mission in the northern region of Evros has resulted in a significant drop in illegal arrivals since October. A total of 5,281 immigrants have entered Greece illegally via the Turkish land border since the beginning of this year compared to 8,054 in November and December. The number of migrants arrested so far this month is 1,383 compared to 2,266 in January.