Athens bracing over reports of migrant surge

Athens bracing over reports of migrant surge

The Hellenic Coast Guard has increased the number of patrols along Greece’s eastern sea border amid reports that refugees and migrants are moving en masse by bus from inland camps in Turkey to the coast opposite the Greek islands of Chios, Lesvos and Kos, stoking fears of a repeat of what happened in February at the Evros land border and in the eastern Aegean.

There were even suspicions that some of the migrants on the move were at the Pazarkule camp near the Kastanies border crossing a few weeks ago.

After receiving these reports on Friday, the Hellenic Coast Guard and Navy increased the number of their boats in the area on Saturday, while three Frontex aircraft were ordered to patrol the Greek-Turkish sea border during the night.

The aim of the plan is for boats with migrants to be located while they are still in Turkish territorial waters so that their entry into Greece can be prevented.

The increased patrols will last at least until Wednesday, when the weather is expected to worsen, which tends to deter crossings to the islands.

Nonetheless, up until Monday afternoon those fears had not been confirmed, with coast guard officers pointing out however that “the data may be overturned at any moment.”

On Sunday night through to Monday morning only one attempt was made by illegal migrants to reach a Greek island (Symi).

According to a reliable source, the boat, with about 10 migrants aboard, was found in Turkish territorial waters.

Two coast guard boats were dispatched to the area with an order not to allow the boat to enter Greek territorial waters. The operation lasted a total of 14 hours before the migrants were collected by the Turkish Coast Guard.

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