The UK’s home secretary on Wednesday visited a controversial new migration centre on the Greek island of Samos and held talks with officials in Athens on combating people trafficking.
On the eastern edge of the EU, Greece is often one of the first European countries in which migrants arrive when entering the bloc.
The new reception centre on Samos has been criticised by campaigners, who condemned the conditions there and the possible curtailment of freedoms.
“We have seen a surge in illegal migration across Europe, and we must continue to work closely with Greek partners to tackle this challenge that both our countries face,” Ms Patel said.
“Only by working together can we break up these crime gangs that extend throughout Europe and beyond, and stop the horrific trade in people across the continent.”
She referred to the recently approved Nationality and Borders Bill as evidence of the UK government’s “steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration”.
Opponents of the bill say it will make it harder for genuine refugees to get asylum.
The UK Home Office said Ms Patel “heard first-hand accounts of those working on the front line and an overview of the methods the Hellenic Coastguard are using to save lives at sea while also preventing small boats illegally entering Greek waters”.
With Greek shipping minister Ioannis Plakiotakis, Ms Patel discussed “Greece’s response to the scale and threat posed by small boat crossings in the Aegean and the involvement of organised immigration crime gangs in those crossings”.
Samos Volunteers, a support group for migrants on the island, say the recently constructed camp “will confine people between a double barbed-wire fence, in prefabricated isoboxes”.