Italy-bound mi­grants land on Crete

In­creased in­flux at­trib­uted to refugees head­ing for neigh­bor­ing coun­try

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A re­cent in­crea­sein un­doc­u­mented mi­grants land­ing on Crete and other is­lands in the south­ern Aegean as well as the coast­line of the Pelo­pon­nese ap­pears to be the con­se­quence of an in­ten­si­fied in­flux of refugees head­ing for Italy, au­thor­i­ties be­lieve.

In the past week alone 120 mi­grants landed on Karpathos and another 120 were res­cued off Crete’s Souda Bay, tes­ti­fy­ing to the rise in flows.

In both cases, the mi­grants had been on ves­sels that had been bound for Italy but had suf­fered engine fail­ure, sources said.

Speak­ing to Kathimerini, an of­fi­cial at the Ci­ti­zens’ Pro­tec­tion Min­istry said that such in­ci­dents are not un­usual but, rather, ap­pear to have in­creased in fre- quency in re­cent months.

“In re­cent years we’ve seen these kinds of in­ci­dents about twice a month,” the of­fi­cial said.

“Ei­ther the smug­glers would aban­don the mi­grants on the coast of Crete, telling them that they’ve reached Italy, or we would re­ceive a res­cue sig­nal from peo­ple who have been aban­doned half­way through the jour­ney, near the coast of the Pelo­pon­nese,” he said.

On Friday, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker de­scribed Greece and Italy as “heroic” in their ef­forts to tackle the prob­lem and pledged ad­di­tional sup­port as of­fi­cial fig­ures point to a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in un­doc­u­mented mi­grants seek­ing to en­ter the Euro­pean Union.

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