Greece aims to triple the length of the fence on its border with Turkey due to an explosion in refugees attempting to cross into the country, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Sunday.
Athens will add 80 additional kilometres of barbed wire and steel to its 40-kilometre fence, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said, according to VOA.
“There is a clear attempt by Turkey to instrumentalise migrants in creating a crisis with Greece,” said Mitarachi. The numbers speak for themselves, he said.
Migration is one of a string of contentious issues between Turkey and Greece. Athens frequently accuses Ankara of using asylum-seeking migrants at its borders with Greece as a weapon, saying it is obliged to stop migrants covertly entering Greece under an EU-Turkey deal worth billions of euros.
The Greek government completed another 26-kilometre extension of a steel border wall to make the barrier span 40-kilometre last year. Turkey blames Greece for migrant pushbacks in the Aegean Sea.
The number of migrants trying to cross the Turkey-Greece border illegally is 20 per cent higher than last year, VOA said. In June, almost 3,000 people tried to illegally cross into Greece from Turkey in a total of 82 attempts, it said, citing Migration Ministry officials.
Greece has also deployed hundreds of additional border guards to boost patrols along the border in recent weeks, VOA said.
Under the EU accord signed in 2016, Turkey agreed to curb the flow of migrants and refugees into the bloc via Greece in exchange for 6 billion euros to support refugee-related services.