On the Greek-Turkish border, the number of attempts to break through by smugglers carrying illegal immigrants has sharply increased. Greece has serious concerns that, in the face of escalating tensions, Ankara will attempt to repeat the situation in the spring of 2020.
For this reason, there is a strengthening of Greek forces in the region, the newspaper reports. ToVima. Two special groups of the anti-terrorist service ΕΚΑΜ have been sent to the region. Three more similar groups (20 people each) will be added to them. Three more EKAM teams have been sent to Lesvos, Samos and Chios and it is expected that one team will be added to each island.
Contingency plans have three levels that depend on the escalation:
- Border guards and stationary forces should be deployed at critical points on the Evros River.
- Activation of the special groups mentioned above
- All of the above groups and forces will be reinforced with ascendants (special armored vehicles with water cannons), drones, tear gas, chemicals, and stun grenades.
At the same time, the mapping of critical points of possible transit of migrants is updated, especially at a time when the water level is low. The greatest attention will be on those places where the fence does not exist, namely: from Ormenio to Marazia, from Nea Vissa to Pythio, and from Petrades to Tikhoron.
In the coming weeks, police forces in the area will be reinforced with portable thermal imaging cameras with a range of up to one and a half kilometers, night vision binoculars, two or three armored vehicles and ten four-wheel drive vehicles, which are needed to patrol the area.
As already mentioned, 1600 border guards receive special training from EKAM leaders, with imitation of attacks, defensive tactics – the use of weapons, capture – immobilization. Everyone will know the position they will take, the team and area of their responsibility, the weapons, the equipment they will need to obtain, and the vehicle they will use.
In the coming days, scenarios for exercises to prevent a massive influx of migrants in the coastal areas of Evros, where there is no fence, will be worked out. The automated camera control center is fully operational in five centers and covers most of the Greek-Turkish border.
In May of this year, the number of arrests of illegal immigrants doubled compared to the corresponding month in 2021. In Evros, in the first four months of 2022, 1,553 arrests of illegal immigrants were recorded. Across the country, 292 arrests of smugglers were made in the same period, compared to just 220 in 2021.
Migration flows in Evros in May last year increased by about 25% compared to the corresponding month of 2021, while in the same month, given that the river level dropped “to the knee”, 350 attempts to break through illegal immigrants were recorded per day.