The percentage of migrants bound for Greece from Turkey has increased by 17 percent in the past 4-5 weeks, Fabrice Leggeri, Director of Europe’s border protection agency Frontex told a German daily on May 1.
The reason for the increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross into Europe is because there are more people coming westwards from Syria, Iran and Iraq, Leggeri said.
He also called for enhanced border protection for Europe and urged authorities to realize a consistent deportation system despite the heavy pressure of the number of incoming migrants.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, 2,900 people have arrived in the eastern Greek province of Evros across from the Turkish border so far in April. Most of them were determined to be Syrian and Iraqi families.
This is equivalent to half the estimated land arrivals recorded in all of 2017, outpacing arrivals by sea, the agency said.
“It’s too early to know the causes of the increase … More time is needed to say if the flow really is shifting,” said Izabella Cooper, a spokeswoman for Frontex, which has a staff of 26 officers in the area.
From the border area, the refugees are taken to police facilities for identification and then forwarded to reception camps in the north.
Some privately seek passage to Thessaloniki, or even Athens if they can afford it.
The camps are already filling up, and this week, the UNHCR called on the government to urgently expand reception capacity to ease the strain.
“Hundreds of people are at present being held in police detention facilities,” the UNHCR said.
Some refugees actively seek out the police to get themselves indoors.
Another senior officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they can barely keep up with arrivals.
“The reception center is full to capacity … There is a great increase in flows, but the situation is still under control,” he told AFP.
Frontex’s Cooper said the agency is ready to divert additional resources to the area if requested.
“Our operations are flexible and we are ready to increase our presence if necessary,” she told the daily Ethnos on April 29.
Most of the migrants illegally crossing to Europe are male, according to data provided by Frontex.
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