Even as a steady influx of undocumented migrants continues to arrive on Greek islands in the eastern Aegean from neighboring Turkey, in western Greece hundreds have been intercepted while attempting to continue their journeys further into Europe.
In the first seven months of this year, authorities intercepted more than 400 undocumented migrants trying to reach Italy aboard ferries from the Peloponnese and the Ionian island of Zakynthos. At the same time more than 30 migrants have been stopped at the airports of Kalamata, Aktion, near Preveza, and Araxos, near Patra – most with stolen or forged travel documents.
Meanwhile coast guard officers working closely with the European Union’s border monitoring agency, Frontex, have traced several smuggling boats trying to carry migrants to Italy from Cephalonia, Katakolo and Messinia. Most of the vessels are believed to have set off from the southern Aegean or southern and western Peloponnese headed for the Ionian in a bid to reach Italy.
Inspections by Hellenic Coast Guard officers at key ports have two key goals: identifying the individuals believed to be heading up the attempted smuggling operation and determining whether those individuals, or any of the migrants aboard, are radicalized jihadists trying to reach Western Europe.
Pressure is continuing to build on the islands of the Aegean where reception centers are overcrowded. More than 330 migrants reached the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Leros and Samos on Monday alone.