Saturday, September 25

Greece expands its border wall to discourage Afghans trying to reach Europe

Greece claims to have completed a 40-kilometer wall on its border with Turkey and installed a surveillance system to prevent potential Afghan asylum seekers from reaching Europe after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.

The return of the Taliban has sparked fears among some leaders that Europe will face a migration crisis similar to that of 2015, by people fleeing persecution or further conflict.

Greek Minister for Citizen Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis says his country has taken steps to stop a replay of the scenes from six years ago. Greece had already put up a wall of almost 13 kilometers.

“We can’t wait, passively, for possible impact,” Chrisochoidis said last week. “Our borders will be safe and inviolable.”

The Greek government has already said that it will not allow the refugees to cross into Europe and that they would send them back. “Our country will not be the gateway to Europe for illegal Afghan migrants,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said a few days earlier.

Common front Greece and Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also held talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last Friday. Erdoğan defends that more support must be given to Afghanistan and Iran – a key route for the arrival of Afghans to Turkey – or there will be a new wave of migration.

More than a million people fleeing the war in the Middle East crossed from Turkey into the EU in 2015, including by boat through the Aegean Sea. About 60,000 stayed in Greece, while the others traveled north to other countries.

Turkey signed an agreement in 2016 to limit the flow of migrants in exchange for financial support. Under this agreement, anyone who has not applied for asylum or whose application is rejected is sent back to Turkey.

Translation by Ignacio Rial-Schies