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Greece ‘at breaking point’ as number of migrants crossing from Turkey TRIPLES in new Med crisis

Greece ‘at breaking point’ as number of migrants crossing from Turkey TRIPLES in new Med crisis
Friday, 23 August, 2019, 09:20

GREECE is at “breaking point” as the number of illegal migrants making the deadly sea crossing from Turkey to Europe has tripled.

The country has about 90,000 migrants in more than 50 camps and across the mainland and islands.

Many of the camps are rife with squalor, overcrowding and disease.

They are also filled with thousands of unaccompanied minors.

The surge has sparked fears Greece will soon break the 100,000 mark it says it can cope with, The Times reports.

If that happens it would result in a humanitarian crisis for the poorest state in the EU which is still reeling from the economic crises of more than a decade ago.

There were 1,570 arrivals by sea in the first week of this month, compared with 479 in the same period last year, according to data from Athens and the UN's refugee agency.

The daily arrival rate has rocketed from 60 to 278 a day with one extreme case seeing 490 refugees arrived on the island of Lesbos in 24 hours.

So far this year, 21,987 have crossed the Aegean Sea, compared with 32,494 in total for 2018.

According to the UNHCR the migrants are largely Afghan and Syrian.

On Lesbos alone, more than 8,000 refugees are squeezed into a camp built for 2,000.

Experts say that the rising figure represents a deterioration in diplomatic relations between Greece and Turkey.

They believe that hard-line Turkish President Erdogan could be making a stand-off over energy supplies.

In recent weeks Greece has looked to Europe for support against Turkey's oil and gas ventures off the contested islands.

Relations have been strained for years over sea and airspace rights in the Aegean Sea with the countries coming to the brink of war in 1996 over conflicting claims to a group of islands.