Numbers of illegal migrants shoot up

The number of illegal immigrants caught in Greece this year has shot up by more than 60 percent compared to last year, according to figures made public by the police yesterday. Police revealed that 40,933 illegal immigrants were discovered in Greece during the first eight months of this year, compared to 25,393 during the same period last year. This is a rise of 61.2 percent, but authorities believe there were fewer attempts by migrants to enter Greece illegally last year because of the heightened security for the Olympics. The figures were presented during a seminar being held in Athens as part of a 6-million-euro program funded by the European Union which aims to forge closer ties between authorities in EU and Mediterranean rim countries to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking. Coast guard officials told Kathimerini that there have been 182 cases detected this year of migrants being transported into Greece by sea. In almost 90 percent of these cases, the boats carrying the migrants had set sail from Turkey. The officials added that Turkey was not working hard enough to stem the flow of illegal migrants from its shores to Greece. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday that there were plans to build a center for migrants in Athens to house unaccompanied minors.