The Guardian has a report from the Greek-Turkish frontier - or "Europe's border", as a German member of the 175-strong Frontex security team describes it:
In 2009 some 3,600 migrants managed to slip across the frontier not far from this market town; in 2010 that number shot up to 36,000, helping explain why Greece has become the favoured port of entry for 90% of illegals pouring into the EU.
"They come at all hours of the night and day," said Orestiada's police chief, Giorgos Salamangas, in his icon-bedecked office. "And they're coming not just from the Middle East and Asia but all of Africa, places I have never heard of before."
The Guardian being The Guardian, they headline the piece "Fortress Europe". But it's a fortress you can stroll into:
The influx has shattered the rhythm of life in one of Greece's most isolated regions. Farmers in the main, the locals speak of the fear they have felt at suddenly encountering thousands of bedraggled men, women and children from the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq, Algeria and Morocco, India, Palestine, Congo and Somalia.
"It's been an unbelievable caravan of humanity. I must have seen at least 10,000 of them pass," said Giorgos Liakides, who runs a little mini-market in Nea Vissa, the first village after the border. "You wake up and find them on your doorstep, and at night when you go to water the fields you find them hiding in the bushes. We understand their plight, we are human as well. But we're afraid. None of us ever used to lock our doors before; now we worry all the time."
Mostly economic migrants, those who do get in readily hand themselves over to Greek police, eager to elicit the documents that will allow them to stay for up to 30 days in the EU member state.
In theory, they are meant to be deported after that, but in practice many just blend into the back streets of Athens before attempting to sneak into another European country by train, boat or bus.
What does the future hold for Chief Salamangas and Giorgos Liakides? According to the UN, global population is supposed to peak at about nine billion in 2050, then level off and start to decline. If you're one of those eco-fetishists who think of humanity as a species, then that nine billion is the number to watch, up from six billion at the turn of the century. But, if you don't think of the world as one unified global parking lot, you're less interested in the big number and more in its constituent parts: On the road to that nine billion, almost all the increase in global population will come from Islam and sub-Saharan Africa - ie, "the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq, Algeria and Morocco, [the Muslim minority of] India, Palestine, Congo and Somalia".
Between 2010 and 2030, the ummah - the worldwide Muslim community – is predicted to increase from somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of the global population to one third of humanity. I would call that a pretty conservative estimate, but let's stick with it. Muslims would be one in three of the world's population, yet, aside from a handful of rapacious emirs and a few thousand layabout Saudi princes gambling and whoring in Mayfair and Macau, enjoy almost none of its wealth. They'll be "citizens" of countries which have done a cracking job of killing almost all human progress of the modern age. In the first decade of the 21st century, Niger, which is over 90 per cent Muslim, increased its population by almost half – from just over ten million to just over 15 million. In 2000, half a million of its children were estimated to be starving, but hey, that's no reason not to add a few million more. Its population is predicted to hit just under 100 million by the end of this century – in a country that can't feed a people one-tenth that size. Is it likely that an extra 90 million people will choose to stay within Niger?
Sub-Saharan Africa will double its population between now and 2030. They're poor and getting poorer. Excepting South Africa, the Dark Continent's per capita income averaged $355 in 2004, but is expected to fall by almost 20 per cent to $290 by 2030. Good for the planet? Well, it depends how you think about it. A few years ago, a Unicef report found that more than one billion children in the developing world were suffering from the most basic "deprivations" – lack of food, lack of education, lack of rights. Yet by 2020 each of them – or at any rate the half who are girls – will have had an average of three children each. Who in turn will lack food and education and much else, and will be at higher risk of many genetic disorders. It would be asking an awful lot for untold millions of them to remain in the teeming, disease-ridden shanty megalopolises into which Africa's population is consolidating - rather than to, say, head for the lusher fields of Giorgos Liakides' village.
Here's the question for "Fortress Europe": What's to stop that vast "caravan of humanity" just walking in and taking it the way Robert Mugabe's thugs took any Zimbabwean farm that tickled their fancy? The Camp Of The Saints is looking more prophetic every day.
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