NEWS

Frontex to help patrol Evros area

The European Union’s border-monitoring agency, Frontex, is to send a unit to Greece’s land border with Turkey to help curb a growing influx of illegal immigrants that is reaching crisis proportions. Frontex Executive Director Ilkka Laitinen said yesterday that a team of Frontex staff is on the way to the Greek-Turkish border in the region of Evros to assess the situation before deciding on the size of the unit and the technical means it will dispatch. The statement by Frontex was a response to an appeal on Sunday by EU Internal Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. «Greece will now be able to benefit concretely from European solidarity in the management of external borders,» Malmstrom said, adding that the flow of undocumented migrants entering Greece had «reached alarming proportions.» Her comments came a day after Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis appealed to the EU to immediately dispatch «rapid intervention teams» to the Greek-Turkish land border. The commissioner conceded that the situation at the Greek land border with Turkey «is increasingly worrying.» «The flows of people crossing the border irregularly have reached alarming proportions and Greece is manifestly not able to face this situation alone,» Malmstrom said. According to Frontex, 90 percent of all illegal border crossings into the EU this year have been detected in Greece. The border agency said that 45,000 illegal immigrants were reported to have been detained in Greece in the first six months of this year. It is believed that up to 350 migrants try to breach the land border every day.