Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis has claimed that people traffickers have lost as much as €100 million due to the reduction in migrants flowing into Greece.
The Migration and Asylum minister stated that Greece has seen just 12,000 migrants arrive this year, compared to 74,000 in 2019. This, he said he estimated, would have cost illegal people traffickers €100 million.
He went on to note that Greece has made decisions on 60,000 asylum applications this year. He added that the new structures being built for migrants on the Aegean islands would have a maximum residency of six months, Proto Thema reports.
Greece Strengthens Border as Minister Warns of New Migrant Surge https://t.co/LxKYIf3NXs
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 8, 2020
The transfer of migrants off the islands, mostly comprised of vulnerable people and children, has already begun. Mitarakis said that only recognised refugees would be transferred, not those waiting on their asylum decisions.
He also commented on the recent fire in the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, stating that the fire was caused by arsonists who wanted to be transferred early off the island.
Greece has seen a rapid decline in new migrant arrivals since earlier in the year when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the gates to Europe in February. The Turkish president later closed the border area in late March to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Despite the closure, sporadic reports have emerged of Turkish officials looking to help migrants cross the border in the Evros region. Earlier this month, the Greek press published photos claiming to show Turkish border officials overseeing migrants attempting to cross into Greece.
Claim: Turkish Military Helping Migrants Cross Greek Border, Making Sure Smugglers Don’t Charge Too Much https://t.co/UmMLciCxlh
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 6, 2020
The Greek government has said it will reinforce and expand its border fence to deal with future migrant surges.
Greek Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum Giorgos Koumoutsakos warned this month that migrant pressure was increasing in the area and that he expected a potential new threat from Erdogan if the EU decides on sanctions against Turkey at a meeting to be held later this month.