Immigrant flood still unchecked

Despite appeals by the Greek authorities to their Turkish counterparts to do more to stop human traffickers operating on their shores, more and more illegal immigrants are landing on Greek territory, paying around $2,000 each to be ferried from the Turkish coast. Yesterday the Greek coast guard found 69 illegal immigrants on board an Austrian-flagged yacht, the Tacita, off the port of Lavrion, southwest of Athens. They arrested Turkish citizens, Adil Bektas, 29, and Yilmaz Abiter, 32, on suspicion of being human traffickers. On the Dodecanese island of Kos, the authorities apprehended eight Afghan illegal immigrants, who had crossed from the Turkish coast in two dinghies. Meanwhile, 290 of an estimated 350 illegal immigrants abandoned on the island of Evia last week have now been found. A Halkida court sentenced the three Turkish crew members of the ship to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 539 million drachmas each. On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees praised Greece’s treatment of these refugees, saying the authorities responded quickly and decisively after the first people swam ashore, and commended the local population and media’s great sympathy and admirable hospitality toward the boat people.

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