Greece has tightened border restrictions along its land and sea border with Turkey in anticipation of a new influx of refugees fleeing the earthquakes that ravaged south-east Turkey and northern Syria.
Hundreds of additional border guards began monitoring the Greek-Turkish land border in the Evros region over the weekend as precautionary steps were intensified to prevent the anticipated influx.
If humanitarian aid does not arrive, it is anticipated that some of the individuals rendered homeless by the February 6 earthquakes, which killed more than 50,000 people, may begin migrating to Europe in the spring.
The patrols were despatched in response to calls for stronger protection of the continent’s borders through enhanced surveillance infrastructure and extra fencing.
“The mass movement of millions of people is not a solution,” said Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s migration minister, emphasizing the importance of emergency relief to Turkey and Syria.
“The fence will be extended along the entire length of the [Evros] river so that we can protect the European continent from illegal flows,” he added.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose four-year stint as prime minister of Greece ends in July, has been considerably harder on the problem of immigration than his socialist predecessor, Alexis Tsipras.
The government’s strategy, which apparently includes violent evictions or pushbacks of refugees in border regions, has drawn significant criticism, including from the EU. The government has rejected the charges and defined its policies as “strict but fair”