Greek Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens has blessed those guarding the Greek border, including a group of civilian volunteers working to prevent illegals crossing from Turkey.
The Greek Orthodox leader visited the region near the border village of Feres and stated: “I am deeply moved and proud. I am sorry for the people that are pushed to come here, because they are being used as tools in the hands of another. We who are here at the European borders, must insist that Europe does not shut its eyes to such phenomena.”
A growing number of Greek civilians are taking it upon themselves to help guard the land border between Turkey and Greece after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the gates to potentially millions of migrants less than two weeks ago.
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The exact number of civilian border patrol members are unclear, but a report from French newspaper Le Temps puts the number at around 300 near Feres, stating that the men are mainly comprised of local farmers and hunters.
Athanasios Pemousis, a local community leader, said that his group support the border troops saying: “We give them coffee, water… and we bring them food. As farmers and hunters, we know the region well, its delta, its swamps, which allows us to provide expertise to the troops.”
Another member of the group, given the pseudonym Dimitris by the newspaper, stated that the migrants were invading Greece and added: “For years Greece has had to deal alone with the influx of migrants. We cannot accommodate them!”
French broadcaster BFMTV also spoke to two Greek locals near the Evros river, a lawyer and fisherman, who had dubbed themselves “migrant hunters”.
“We know all the possible accesses. It’s 24 hours a day. We left our job and our family to protect our country. What we did, how many migrants we saw, we give everything to the army and the police,” the men said and added that they had stopped around a dozen migrants.
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Similar civilian border patrols have emerged in the past in other countries such as Bulgaria where a group claimed to engage in “healthy walks” while they tracked down illegals crossing the border and handed them over to local authorities.
More recently in Slovenia, a group labelling themselves a “village guard” patrolled the country’s border with Croatia, saying they had even rescued a Pakistani migrant who had been robbed and stabbed by other migrants.