Greece boosts border patrols, plans cameras to stop migrants

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FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 file photo, a police officer walks outside a detention center in the northern Greek village of Fylakio, at the Greek-Turkish border. Greece is stepping up security on the land border with Turkey, through which thousands of migrants clandestinely enter Europe, with extra patrols and guards and a network of powerful surveillance cameras, officials said Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos, File)

PYTHIO – Greece is stepping up security on its porous land border with Turkey, used by thousands of migrants to clandestinely enter Europe, with extra guards supported by a network of powerful surveillance cameras, officials said Friday.

The country is struggling with a surge of immigration through Turkey, and is now the main point of entry to Europe.

Greek island migrant camps, which receive most new arrivals, are dysfunctional and severely overcrowded, while this week details emerged of a plan to set up a floating barrier to block migrant boats in the Aegean Sea.

On the northeastern land border with Turkey, that mostly follows the Evros River, army and police have launched joint patrols while police are hiring 400 more border guards to deploy locally, officials said.

“We have already started the joint patrols,” said Ilias Akidis, police union head in the nearby town of Orestiada. “And installation of the 11 surveillance cameras along the river (will soon be) implemented.”

Greece has already erected a 10-kilometer (six-mile) fence along part of the border where the river veers away, leaving dry land that migrants could easily walk across.

The cameras will be erected on 50-meter (165-foot) high stands, and will each be able to monitor a 10-kilometer stretch of the 200-kilometer (125-mile) border.

“The cameras will cover what we can't fully monitor with personnel in the field ... because it's a long stretch of river,” Akidis said.