The flow of refugees to the Greek islands and through Evros, the land bridge which forms the border with Turkey, has been on the decline in the recent past, Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas said on Monday.
Speaking to ‘Sto Kokkino’ radio station, Vitsas said that “our main concern is to relieve pressure on the islands and deal with the refugee flow in Evros.”
Vitsas is on a tour of northern Greece and is expected to visit refugee reception facilities in Drama and Kavala.
He underlined that the main purpose is to look at the situation, to exchange views with people working in the field and see what can be done to facilitate their work. In addition he hopes to improve the living conditions of the asylum seekers.
He stressed that “the key issue we are trying to discuss with both Europe and Turkey is to relieve the islands, and it seems that we have some results.” The minister said that the program to transfer vulnerable groups to the mainland is continuing, which allows refugee services there to work more efficiently.
Late on Sunday, just prior to Vitsas’ remarks, a vessel from the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex rescued 35 undocumented migrants from a smuggling boat off the coast of Lesvos.
The vessel had been patrolling the area between Greece and Turkey when it spotted the inflatable dinghy heading towards the island.
No details were available about the national origins of the migrants, who were safely transferred to a Lesvos reception center.