Greece, Immigration, and the ‘Arab Spring’

Greece, as many already know, is suffering from significant unemployment and immense debt pressures. Not surprisingly, it is also a country that faces an immigration problem. To understand the pressues of immigration, particularly after the event of the ‘Arab Spring’, EurActive has produced a small report entitled, “Greece measures Arab Spring immigration impact,” excerpts of which are posted below:

The months of the Arab Spring were marked with a 50% rise in illegal immigration in the EU, with a particular impact on Greece, EU immigration officials said in Athens. EurActiv Greece contributed to this article.

The impact of the Arab Spring on illegal immigration was outlined by Gil Arias Fernandez, deputy director of the European border control agency Frontex, on 16 November in Athens with the publication of figures that highlighted an influx of North African migrants trying to enter the European Union.

Between 1 January and 30 September the number of illegal immigrants increased by 50% compared to the same period of the previous year: 112,844 immigrants were registered by national authorities compared to 76,697 last year.

“This jump is due to the mass inflow from North African countries, which was directed mainly at Italy and Malta in the first half of this year,” Fernandez said…

According to Frontex data, illegal immigrant inflow in Europe through the so-called Eastern-Mediterranean route – the border between Greece and Turkey – is almost of the same intensity as in 2010 and even with a relative decrease. Last year 39,000 illegal immigrants were registered while this year there were 2,000 fewer.

Shift of the immigration ‘pattern’

At the same time, Frontex outlined the shift of illegal immigration from the Maghreb countries with migrants choosing to cross the land border between Greece and Turkey, rather than the Spanish maritime borders. “From 1 January to 30 October, in Greece 1,700 Algerians, 1,000 Moroccans and 300 Tunisians were registered, while the number of immigrants from those countries in Spain was respectively 900, 200 and 1”, Fernandez said.

“The peak was last October with 9,600 illegal crossings recorded from Turkey into Greece. Currently, the daily detentions in Greece are on average above 300 a day – a significant number.”

One of the reasons is the reduction in visa requirements in Turkey. Recently, Turkey has been building its own visa-free area, resembling the EU borderless Schengen space…

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One Response to Greece, Immigration, and the ‘Arab Spring’

  1. Pingback: Asylum Seekers Attacked in Greece by Extremists | The Human Tsunami

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