Major spike in number of illegal migrants, would-be asylum seekers landing in Lesvos this week

Friday, 30 August 2019 14:25
UPD:14:26
ΑΠΕ ΜΠΕ/STR
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A significant spike in the number of small craft carrying third country nationals, mostly Afghans, to the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos (Mytilene) was recorded on Thursday, with no less than 13 flimsy inflatable vessels landing on the island after disembarking unhindered from the opposite Turkish mainland.

A total of 547 would-be asylum seekers and irregular migrants were counted, including entire families, according to local media. The main "landing" point during the mass entry on Thursday was the Skala site in the north of the island.

According to media reports from Athens a day later, efforts by the Greek coast guard and Frontex to notify Turkish coast guard officials of migrant-laden vessels entering Greek territorial waters and heading straight towards the island were ignored.

Among the new arrivals, authorities counted 246 minors, all transported aboard the flimsy outboard motor-powered vessels.

The incident marked the biggest illegal entry of third country nationals, in a single day, to Lesvos since 2016.

Speculation in Athens and European capitals consider that the intent of the new Greek government to streamline asylum procedures, whereby foreign nationals' whose applications are denied are duly held for administrative deportation, is being exploited by people smuggling rings operating in western Turkey to accelerate illegal entries - while at the same time increasing the money they charge would-be migrants for ferrying them to EU territory.

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