Greece has decided to deploy some 2,000 additional border guards on its border with Turkey in anticipation of a mass influx of Syrian refugees fleeing an escalating conflict in the violence-torn country.
The reinforcements will be sent to the northeastern Evros region, where the country shares a 212-km stretch of land border with Turkey. Greece currently has around 600 border guards in the area.
In addition, a total of 26 floating barriers will be placed along the Evros River, which is considered the main entry point for illegal immigrants trying to reach the European Union.
“We want to 'seal' the river so that Greece is no longer used as an 'open gate' [by immigrants],” Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said on Monday.
According to EU statistics, over 80% of illegal immigrants enter the European Union through the ‘porous’ border between Turkey and Greece. About 100,000 immigrants were arrested while attempting to cross the border between the two countries in 2011.
In an attempt to tackle illegal migration, Greece has started construction of a 12-km (8-mile) fence along part of its border with Turkey. The razor-wire-topped 13-foot-tall fence is expected to be completed in October and cost an estimated $3.9 million.
The Syrian conflict has already claimed up to 19,000 lives since it broke out in March 2011, according to UN data based on activist accounts. About 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, including Turkey, which has registered 88,000 Syrian refugees so far.