An impressive decrease in illegal migrant flows to Greece from the Aegean was recorded, according to official data from the Greek Coast Guard.
In particular, in the first 9 months of 2019 there were 39,797 arrivals of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in Greece, while in the corresponding period this year (from January to September), only 9,437 arrived, a decrease of 76%. If we do not limit the time period to 7 months, ie from March to September then the reduction is 89%.
According to experts, this is due to a number of factors.
First of all, the fact that patrols are now being carried out across the islands on a 24-hour basis by both vessels of the Greek Coast Guard and Frontex, ie the European Border and Coast Guard Organization, while the presence of the Navy is now intensive. Especially during the Greek-Turkish crisis of the summer when the fleet was scattered throughout the Aegean, not even a fishing boat passed without being located and checked.
It should also be taken into account that since March 1, the government has decided to further monitor and “shield” the maritime border after the incidents at the Evros border where thousands of illegal immigrants were being transported from Turkey to the border and told to cross into Greece. However, the coordinated actions of the army and police of Greece, in combination with the raised fence, prevented illegal entry from migrants.
It cannot be forgetten that this spring, a 45-day lockdown was imposed as a measure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the monitoring of ports and island coasts even stricter, in regards to who is coming and who is leaving. At the same time, the illegal migrant trafficking networks operating on the Turkish coast have begun, in recent months, to prefer new sea routes to southern Italy rather than the Greek islands.