Greece to build a floating barrier to stop migrants arriving irregularly from Turkey

The Greek government plans to erect a floating barrier in the Aegean Sea to prevent migrant boats from reaching its islands. The measure has received strong criticism from political opponents and migrant rights groups.

The floating fence will be 2.7 kilometres in length and around 1.1 metres in height. Around 50 centimetres will be visible above the water’s surface, and reflective material and lights will be used to make it more noticeable at night.

The netted barrier near the Greek island of Lesbos would send a clear message to smugglers that the “rules of the game had changed”, the country’s minister for migration and asylum, Notis Mitarakis said.

“First of all it will send the message that we are not a free-for-all place where anything goes, that we’re taking every measure to protect our borders,” Mitarakis told a local radio station.

The measure has been condemned by the country’s leftwing opposition party, Syriza, that called the floating fence a “disgusting measure,” adding: “it offends humanity … and violates European and international rules.”

Their concerns have been echoed by Amnesty International. “The plan raises serious issues about rescuers’ ability to continue providing life-saving assistance to people attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Lesbos,” said Massimo Moratti, Amnesty’s research director for Europe.

“This proposal marks an alarming escalation in the Greek government’s ongoing efforts to make it as difficult as possible for asylum-seekers and refugees to arrive on its shores,” he added.

TMP – 13/02/2020

Photo credit: Tom Jastram / Shutterstock

Photo caption: Ship wrecked destroyed boat dinghy of a refugee try to escape from wars stranded on greek islands with tents camping on harbour coast, Kos, Dodecanese, Greece