A group of migrants from Syria near the Evros Greek-Turkish border. Photo: ANSA/EPA
A group of migrants from Syria near the Evros Greek-Turkish border. Photo: ANSA/EPA

A Greek media report says more than 1,650 people, most of them Syrians and Iraqis, crossed the river Evros from Turkey last month. In the same period last year, just 262 people made the journey.

Over 1,650 migrants and refugees crossed the river Evros from Turkey in March 2018, according to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. Police data show that 1,658 people were stopped after crossing the Evros last month. This compares with 262 people in March 2017. 

500 people stopped in two days 

According to the report, over 500 migrants and refugees were stopped by the Greek authorities in just two days. On Monday, 370 people were intercepted, and a further 140 on Sunday. Most of them were Syrian and Iraqi families. The river crossing is particularly dangerous in winter, when the water level is highest. The Greek authorities are concerned that the number of arrivals will increase in the coming months as the water level drops and the crossing becomes easier, Kathimerini reports. 

The Evros marks the northeastern border between Greece and Turkey and it is becoming increasingly important on the migration route also as a result of tighter controls in the Aegean and the long forced stay in reception camps on the Greek islands. 

The flow from Turkey 

In Turkey over the last week the authorities have stopped 5,522 migrants and refugees who were trying to enter the EU or Turkey illegally, the interior ministry says. Of these, 1,107 were intercepted at sea. This is a big increase over the last few weeks. Over the same period, 164 suspected smugglers were arrested. 

Since the EU-Turkey accord on migrants two years ago, the number of people entering the bloc via Turkey has fallen dramatically.

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