Greece Begins Mass-Deportation of Migrants as Country Toughens Up Asylum Policy
Greek Government aims to deport 10,000 refugees by next year while tightening borders
Greece is to begin mass-deportations of migrants as the Greek Government announces a new crackdown on refugees entering the country.
The move follows Sunday’s deadly fire at the Moria migrant camp on Greece’s Lesbos island, where rioting refugees burned parts of the facility down, leaving at least one person dead.
The country has now announced several new measures designed to tackle the overwhelming flow of migrants coming into the southeastern European nation.
Greek government spokesperson, Stelios Petsas, said in a statement that Greece's Ministerial Council has decided to crack down on its asylum application system and ramp-up deportations.
Greece is aiming to deport 10,000 migrants by the end of next year, Reuters reports.
“We are really going through a national crisis,” Lefteris Economou, Greece's Deputy Citizen’s Protection Minister told reporters on Lesbos.
As well as increasing deportations, the government decided during a Monday cabinet meeting to tighten its borders and build what it called “closed centers” for undocumented migrants and rejected asylum-seekers who are awaiting deportation, Petsas revealed.
The country is also increasing sea patrols and speeding up asylum procedures.
Citing the nationalities of new arrivals, Petsas asserts that Greece is now dealing with “a problem of migration, rather than a refugee problem.”
According to United Nations data, the majority are Afghanistan nationals.
In recent months, Greece has been inundated with large numbers of migrants landing on their shores from the Turkish coast.
Europe’s largest refugee camp Moria, located on Lesbos island, has mushroomed into the size of a small town and spiraled into a disaster.
The facility has become dangerously overcrowded, with 12,600 migrants now living at the camp that was originally designed to host around 3,000.
At least one person was killed over the weekend after several migrants set housing units on fire in the center of the Moira camp, and then prevented firefighters from putting it out.
Athens has accused Turkey of violating the terms of the 2016 EU-Turkish migration agreement whereby officials in Ankara promised to limit the flow of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa into the EU via sea transit from Turkey.
In August, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu issued a warning to European governments saying: “We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history.
"If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months.
"We advise them not to try our patience.”
In July alone, Greece saw close to 7,000 migrants arrive by boat, the highest number since 2016.