Greece extends border wall to deter Afghans trying to reach Europe

Surveillance system also installed at fence bordering Turkey as Greek ministers vow to turn back refugees

Greece said it has completed a 25-mile (40km) wall on its border with Turkey and installed a surveillance system to prevent possible asylum seekers from trying to reach Europe after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s sweeping advance last week has sparked fears that Europe could face a migration crisis similar to that in 2015, with people fleeing persecution or further conflict.

Greece’s citizens’ protections minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, said the country had taken action to stop a repeat of scenes six years ago. A fence of almost eight miles had already been in place.

“We cannot wait, passively, for the possible impact,” Chrisochoidis said. “Our borders will remain safe and inviolable.”

The Greek government said last week it would not allow refugees to cross into Europe and would turn people back. “Our country will not be a gateway to Europe for illegal Afghan migrants,” the migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, said in a statement.

The issue was raised by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Friday in a discussion with the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Erdoğan said Afghanistan and Iran – a key route for Afghans into Turkey – should be supported or a new migration wave was certain, according to a statement from his office.

More than 1 million people escaping war and poverty in the Middle East crossed over from Turkey into the EU in 2015 – including in boats over the Aegean Sea. About 60,000 stayed in Greece as more travelled north into other countries.

Turkey struck a deal in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants in exchange for financial support. Any arrivals who did not apply for asylum or had claims rejected would be sent back to Turkey.

Contributor

Harry Taylor and agency

The GuardianTramp

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