World

Greece: Nearly 12,000 immigrants entered illegally in April, twice as many as in March

  • An Afghan man washes his hair at an abandoned hotel where migrants have been given shelter on the island of Kos, Greece, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    An Afghan man washes his hair at an abandoned hotel where migrants have been given shelter on the island of Kos, Greece, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)  (The Associated Press)

  • Estonian police co-pilot Mart Kluimae operates during a Frontex flight patrol near the town of Pilos, southwestern Greece on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The border agency plans to significantly boost its presence on the Mediterranean from June to September, the high season for migrant crossings. The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    Estonian police co-pilot Mart Kluimae operates during a Frontex flight patrol near the town of Pilos, southwestern Greece on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The border agency plans to significantly boost its presence on the Mediterranean from June to September, the high season for migrant crossings. The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Estonian police officer Raivo Kurp, left, controls the aircraft's camera as Greek Coast Guard Surveillance System Operator Nikos Pavlatos watches the monitors during a Frontex flight patrol operation over the Ionian Sea, southwestern Greece on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The border agency plans to significantly boost its presence on the Mediterranean from June to September, the high season for migrant crossings. The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    Estonian police officer Raivo Kurp, left, controls the aircraft's camera as Greek Coast Guard Surveillance System Operator Nikos Pavlatos watches the monitors during a Frontex flight patrol operation over the Ionian Sea, southwestern Greece on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The border agency plans to significantly boost its presence on the Mediterranean from June to September, the high season for migrant crossings. The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40,000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

Greece's coast guard says nearly 12,000 immigrants were arrested entering the country illegally last month — an almost seven-fold increase from the previous year.

The agency said Wednesday that 11,873 people were arrested in April and 6,583 were arrested in March — nearly all on islands facing the coast of Turkey.

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, on a visit to Athens Tuesday, said he would back a European Union relocation plan to assist Greece and Italy.

Greece's government has welcomed the plan but is seeking a higher quota, to help it cope with large numbers of arriving from war-torn Syria.

According to government estimates, some 37,500 immigrants and asylum seekers have reached Greece illegally so far this year.