Greece has prevented more than 154,000 irregular migrants from entering the country this year, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Sunday.
Some fifty thousand people attempted to cross the Turkish-Greek border in August alone, he told Greek daily Eleftheros Typos.
In the aftermath of the dramatic rescue of a group of thirty-eight migrants by the Greek authorities in the Evros region, new data published by the Hellenic Police have indicated a sharp increase in human trafficking arrests in the period of May to July in the area.
In releasing its seven-month statistics, the police said particularly high numbers were noted at the Evros land borders with Turkey, where most human traffickers were arrested.
Of a total of 386 traffickers arrested at land or sea borders from January to July 2022, 312 were apprehended in the Evros region.
Of these, 219 were arrested in the last three months (May 2022 to July 2022), an increase of 58.7 percent over the same three months in 2021 (when 138 were arrested).
Greece extends border fence to reduce number of irregular migrants
Controlling immigration is one of the top priorities of Greece’s conservative government, which came to power in 2019 and is up for re-election in 2023.
Late last month, the government announced it will extend the fence along the northeastern land border with Turkey by another eighty kilometers to prevent migrants from crossing the border.
Officials decided to gradually expand the fence barrier along the entire length of the Evros border with Turkey while related ministries and the National Defense General Staff will prioritize which sections of the fence should be built first through a bidding process.
Thermal imaging cameras and other electronic monitoring devices are also to be installed and 250 additional border guards will be deployed.
Moreover, Greece plans to boost its border patrol force with extra boats and aircraft for its coast guard in the eastern Aegean Sea.