Refugee flows through Greece has picked up again, UNHCR data showed. Last month alone, almost 3,000 people entered the country via land, most of them coming from Syria and Iraq. The UN agency assumes that the increase in arrivals is the result of the latest tensions in the Greek-Turkish relations. Greece moreover suspects that Turkish border guards might have started to care less about the crossings into Greece with the aim to put pressure on Athens and Brussels about the EU’s indefinite postponement of visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. To address the new migratory pressure, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – or Frontex – is ready to support the land border between Greece and Turkey.
Between January and April this year, a total of 7,300 people entered Greece, compared to 4,761 arrivals counted last year, the International Organization for Migration data (IOM) reported. Since the beginning of this year, the IOM reported almost 19,000 arrivals to Europe compared to around 44,600 during the same period last year. In 2016, during the peak of the migration crisis, more than 172,000 refugees arrived in Greece, while in 2015 that number was as high as 872,519.
Currently, more than 13,500 refugees are housed in three Greek islands in temporary facilities with the capacity for only 5,500 people. “Over-concentration of people creates complex situations that are hard to describe,” Christiana Kalogirou, the Governor of the North Aegean Region, said. “For three years now, in the North Aegean islands, we’ve been experiencing all the consequences, both in our everyday life and in our wider economic activity. Consequences that day by day become structural and make the management of the situation even more difficult”, she explained.