Migration Minister points to uptick in arrivals via land border with Turkey


As the influx of undocumented migrants from neighboring Turkey across the Aegean continues unabated, increasing pressure on facilities on the islands that are already overcrowded, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has warned of an increase in arrivals from the Turkish land border too.

On Monday, there were another 262 new arrivals on the islands of the eastern Aegean, according to official data. Of those new arrivals, 177 landed on Lesvos, 54 on Chios and 31 on other islands that lack state-run facilities, according to sources.

But arrivals have also picked up through the Greek-Turkish land border, Mouzalas told reporters in Thessaloniki Monday, noting that most migrants arriving via this route are Pakistani nationals.

Asked about rising tensions in facilities on the Aegean islands, Mouzalas said that action would be taken to ease numbers at the centers but did not determine when this would happen nor which islands were a priority. Another problem, Mouzalas told reporters, was deporting migrants whose applications for asylum have been turned down. Many go missing from the centers after lodging their claims, fearing arrest and deportation, he said. Others remain in the facilities, lodging appeals against rejections even though they do not fulfill the criteria for asylum, the minister said.

Over the weekend, Mouzalas said authorities plan to integrate between 25,000-30,000 asylum seekers who are not entitled to relocation under a European Union program.