Greece boosts border guards over Afghan migration fears

Greece will further increase its border guards at the Turkish border over fears of a a spike in attempted illegal migration because of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- Greece will increase the number of border guards on the country's border with Turkey, fearing a spike in illegal migration linked to the crisis in Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

An additional 250 officers will join the 1,500-strong border force over several months, with the number rising from around 1,000 early last year. About 800 extra border guard personnel will also be hired to staff airports and regions close to the Greek-Turkish border.

Greece has also denied mounting allegations by human rights groups that migrants caught after crossing into Greece are being summarily deported without being allowed to claim asylum.

In parliament Monday, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said a growing number of front-line countries in the 27-nation European Union were pressing the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, for tougher action to deter migration.

“Europe is not bordered by warring countries. And the majority of people arriving are not at risk in the last transit country, so it’s important to redefine how (migration policy) works and how border security works,” Mitarachi said.

Poland and Lithuania in recent months have been struggling to cope with an unusually high number of migrants, most from Iraq and Afghanistan, arriving at their borders with Belarus. They accuse Belarus' government of encouraging the flow of migrants to exert pressure on the entire EU.

“Countries from the north, south and central Europe sent this letter,” Mitarachi said.

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Derek Gatopoulos reported from Athens.

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Follow AP's global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration, Costas Kantouris at https://twitter.com/CostasKantouris and Derek Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos

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