News / Europe

Greece Plans to Build Controversial Border Wall

A Greek soldier patrols near the northeastern Greek village of Nea Vyssa, in the Greek-Turkish borders, 5 Nov 2010 (file photo)
A Greek soldier patrols near the northeastern Greek village of Nea Vyssa, in the Greek-Turkish borders, 5 Nov 2010 (file photo)
Henry Ridgwell

The Greek government says it plans to build a fence along part of its border with Turkey to try to stop illegal immigrants from crossing into the country.

Greek authorities say more than 100,000 illegal immigrants arrived in the country last year.  Most crossed the Evros River that separates Greece and Turkey, and the European Union from the outside world.

The Greek government says those numbers can no longer be tolerated and has announced plans to construct an eight-mile long fence along the most vulnerable part of the border.  

But the announcement was met with a warning from European Union Commission spokesperson Michele Cercone.

"Fences and walls have in the past proven to be really short term measures that do not really help addressing and managing the migratory pressures in more consolidated and structural way," said Cercone.

Many of the migrants travel thousands of miles overland from countries like Afghanistan, Iran and even Myanmar to seek asylum in the European Union.  Others come from countries in north Africa and south Asia hoping to find work.

In October, VOA spoke to asylum seeker Wajid Sharifi, who walked and hitchhiked the thousands of miles from his home in Afghanistan to Greece four years ago.

"It is very difficult [journey]," said Sharifi.  "Especially from Iran to Greece, you have to walk many nights on the mountain, if it is snowing or if it is raining you have to keep continuing your journey and especially when you are crossing the border between Turkey and Greece, you have to cross the river."

Greece is struggling to cope with the huge number of migrants.  Every week at the center for asylum processing in Athens, thousands of migrants battle to get to the front of the queue.  The backlog is estimated at 45,000 cases.  U.N. Refugee Agency spokesman Måns Nyberg calls it a humanitarian crisis.

"The main problem behind the so-called immigration crisis is that there is no coherent EU policy on immigration," said Nyberg.  "Countries like Greece who are being overwhelmed by flows of irregular immigrants may have to resort to desperate measures like this idea of a fence."

Meanwhile, Turkey says it is seeking more information on the Greek plans to construct a fence along the shared border.  One Turkish official added that all physical barriers are surmountable.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs