ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FLOOD IN VIA GREECE
Thursday May 14,2009
STANDING on Europes south-eastern frontier, Greece has become a vital stepping stone on the illegal immigration route to Britain.
Every year more than 100,000 migrants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa flood on to the nations sprawling coastline and network of islands via Turkey.
Many head for the port of Patras where they stowaway on trucks crossing the Adriatic to Italy, then head on to Calais in France.
There are an estimated 4,000 migrants in the port at any one time, with thousands living in a shanty town, similar to the notorious Jungle camp in Calais.
Fights flare up regularly between rival gangs and smuggling rings. Earlier this year, the tensions exploded into a running battle between Somalis and Afghans through the fashionable pedestrian district near the quays.
Thousands more migrants are in Athens and Thessalonica.
In the capital hundreds have taken over an old court building, living amid piles of rubbish and human waste.
Greek authorities intend to knock down the makeshift encampments in Patras and open Sangatte-style camps with sanitation and security, like the ones that used to exist in northern France.
They claim they are powerless to stop the tide of migrants heading to Britain and other rich EU states.