Greek coast guard on heightened alert for people smugglers


The recent incidents involving boats carrying migrants trying to cross the Aegean from Turkey to the coasts of southern Italy has alarmed the Hellenic Coast Guard and the National Intelligence Service, which are trying to ascertain whether there is a specific pattern or a change in the way smuggling rings operate.

Between August 28 and 30, three vessels – sailing boats and yachts – were left stranded with a total of more than 200 migrants aboard.

Two of the vessels were intercepted near the island of Kythira and the third off Milos.

Kathimerini understands that another 15 such boats from Turkey managed to reach Italy during the last week.

The phenomenon, however, began in earnest earlier this summer, when the government, via the Shipping Ministry, sent a letter to the European Commission to draw Brussels’ attention to the danger of a shipping accident.

The purpose of the diplomatic initiative was to put pressure on Turkish authorities to prevent the departure of boats carrying migrants from its shores.