Coast Guard figures show big increase in migrant arrivals

A total of 4,363 would-be migrants were stopped by the Coast Guard and the Greek Police during the first four months of the year, a 142 percent increase compared to the same period last year, official statistics showed on Friday.

According to Coast Guard sources, a large number of would-be migrants on the coastline of neighboring Turkey are waiting to board vessels destined for Greece or Italy. Refugees fleeing war-torn Syria have swelled the numbers of those seeking to reach Europe via Turkey. According to sources, migrants pay between 1,500 to 4,5000 euros each to human smugglers.

The Coast Guard has sought the backing of the armed forces, and particularly the Navy, to boost its efforts at tracing smuggling boats.