Despite border fences, Coast Guard patrols and European Union surveillance, illegal immigrants are still trying to get into Greece by any way way they can.
Fleeing conflicts in the Mideast and deprivation in Africa, the number of illegal immigrants trying to get into Greece rose by 400 percent in August compared to the same month a year ago, officials said.
As a result, the Coast guard forces in the eastern Aegean have been put on higher-level alert, with most of the illegals trying to escape armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
In one day, authorities recorded 624 irregular migrants picked up by the Coast Guard while attempting to cross over to various eastern Aegean islands, undeterred by the difficult weather conditions and wind speeds as high as 7 Beaufort, or 31-38 miles per hour, strong enough to capsize boats.
Scores of immigrants have died this year trying to get into Greece by sea and avoid a fence along the Turkish border. Despite the danger, they keep coming, seeking rare asylum or to use the country as a jumping off point to get into other EU countries.
Warnings that the phenomenon was becoming particularly acute were voiced by Shipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis who said Greece needs more help from the EU, which has cut back funding for patrols and its Frontex unit which helps scour EU borders for illegal immigrants.
He said that Europe was being “willfully blind” to the problems and allowing the countries of the European South, such as Italy, Malta and Greece, to manage the problem at a huge and disproportionate cost.