NEWS

Turkey said it stopped migrant influx at Evros border

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Turkish authorities have assured their Greek counterparts that there is no reason for concern about a social media campaign aimed at encouraging thousands of undocumented migrants to cross the land border into Greece, Kathimerini understands.

Turkish authorities have made a large number of arrests following an online drive that had aimed to gather some 40,000 migrants at Edirne to cross the border into Greece, sources at Greece’s Citizens’ Protection Ministry said.

A similar campaign drove hundreds of undocumented migrants to Diavata, in northern Greece, last week, by suggesting that authorities would be opening the borders and that migrants could continue their journeys into the prosperous heartland of Europe.

With additional intelligence from Europol and Frontex, the Greek Police (ELAS) had learned that the Diavata campaign was under way and feared that participation could reach up to 20,000.

ELAS launched preventive checks in different parts of northern Greece two weeks ago. Nevertheless several hundred migrants gathered near Diavata and clashed with police for three days in a row before officials of the Migration Ministry and United Nations refugee agency managed to convince the protesters that border restrictions were not being lifted.

Notwithstanding growing pressures at the country’s land borders, Greek authorities are equally concerned about the Aegean islands, where tensions are growing in overcrowded state camps.

Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas on Tuesday arrived on Samos, where overcrowding is particularly bad, and is to stay for at least four days “to resolve issues,” sources said.

Vitsas is to meet with local authorities and discuss ways of speeding up the process of identifying vulnerable migrants so that they can be transferred to facilities on the mainland and free up space in the island camp, source said.