Evros crossings down radically

The number of sans-papiers crossing into Greece via the Evros border has dropped by 84 percent since the government launched a massive crackdown on clandestine migrants this summer, police said Wednesday to the greek newspapers.

According to official figures, some 1,121 unregistered immigrants have been arrested in Evros since the start of the “Xenios Zeus” sweep on August 4 compared to 6,991 in the same period last year. Arrivals this month have dwindled drastically compared to last year. In 2011, border guards detained 403 immigrants on September 1 while on the same day this year none was intercepted.

The authorities now fear a renewed influx via the islands of the eastern Aegean.

The mayor of Symi, Lefteris Papakalodoukas, told Kathimerini newspaper that the past two weeks have seen a surge of would-be migrants from the neighboring Turkish coast. “It’s terrible, some 120 to 130 immigrants gather in front of the main police precinct every day and there are only five officers on duty to deal with them,” Papakalodoukas said. Meanwhile, sources said that as many as 6,000 immigrants are currently gathered in neighboring Turkey, waiting their turn to board ships to bring them to Greece. Papakalodoukas told Kathimerini that two coast guard vessels have been patrolling the sea between Symi and the Turkish coast this week and arrested two suspected smugglers on Tuesday.

Police says a total of 16,836 people were being temporarily detained in the broader Athens area, out of whom 2,144 have been arrested since the start of the sweep operation for lacking residence papers.

ekathimerini (in greek)