A recent increase in 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 frequency 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.