More than 2500 refugees, allegedly fleeing from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, had been picked from the waters of the Aegean by the Greek Navy in the course of just three days, in what amounted to around 70 separate rescue operations.
All intercepts of dinghies coming from Turkey into Europe are classified as “rescues” by the Greek Coastguard, regardless of the state the naval vessels or its inhabitants are in. The number of migrants flooding Greece’s shore has been steadily increasing over the last couple of months, reaching nearly 2000 people per day, and a total of 161.500 so far this year, according to Greek authorities.
They are initially housed in refugee centers on Greek’s eastern islands, such as Lesbos or Kos, which most often prove to be only a rest stop from which they can continue their journey to Western Europe. Favorite aims among refugees are Germany and Sweden, due to their good social security and government benefits programs.
Tensions run high at the Greek-Macedonian border crossings, used by the migrants to get further into Europe, with Macedonian police being forced to use teargas earlier this month in an effort to stem off the tides of people trying to fraudulently cross into Macedonia. The border guards had to finally give in and had since allowed passage.
Hungarian Prime-Minister, Ludovic Orban has promised to close Hungarian borders to illegal migrants, and build a detaining facility in Serbia. According to Stathis Kyrousis, a Doctors Without Borders official, this could reinvigorate the Macedonian authorities’ efforts for holding off the tide of migrants at its border, further causing friction with Greece.
According to local authorities, the migrants are yet another burden for the already hard tried country. Greek authorities are struggling to provide food and shelter to the tens of thousands of refugees housed on the small island of Kos, while local economies, which revolve around tourism, are seriously affected.
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study conducted in seven EU nations, a clear majority of European people want a limiting of foreign influx to their countries. Expectedly, Greece tops the charts with over 86% against more foreign immigrants, with Italy coming second at 80% and France third with 57%, trailed by Great Britain at 55%.
More recent figures from the 2015th Eurobarometer opinion polls suggest similar attitudes, with countries such as Germany showing a clear shift against more immigration form non-EU countries, and mass foreign migration being highlighted as the main issue of concern among Europeans.
Photo Credits: yen.gr