Greece taking measures to curb spike in migrant influx from Turkey

Greece’s Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) is taking measures to ease the influx of migrants on the Aegean islands following a spike in migrant arrivals from Turkey.

The decision by the council on Saturday arrives following the arrival of more than 500 migrants at the Aegean island of Lesbos on Thursday, the largest influx since the peak of Europe’s refugee crisis in early 2016, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

A “new, robust policy,” is required in dealing with the gradual increase in migration flows in recent months, it quoted government spokesman Stelios Petsas as saying. 

Turkey is one of the main departure points for migrants seeking to enter Europe by sea, but a 2016 agreement with the European Union sharply cut the numbers of refugees using that route.

’The transfer of migrants from cramped camps on the islands to facilities on the mainland, the immediate relocation of 116 unaccompanied minors from the islands ahead of their reunification with relatives in other European Union countries, and the transfer of another 250 minors to the mainland in the coming weeks,’’ are some of the planned measures, Kathimerini said. 

Greek police will also increase their patrols to locate migrants whose asylum applications were rejected but are still in the country, it said. 

Turkish authorities intercepted a total of 330 migrants attempting to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos, Reuters news agency reported in August.