The relentless traffickers piled 300 illegal migrants on a small motorship – most of them Iraqi Kurds and Afghans who dreamed of finding a job in Europe. This time, the unabashed Turkish traffickers did not abandon them on some islet or isolated beach of the Dodecanese. They brought them from Alikarnassos and dropped them off on Evia. It is not just the objective difficulties obstructing the proper monitoring of Greek seas and the deficiencies of the Port Police Corps in technical capabilities, staff and organization that have made traffickers so daring. Above all, it is the huge profits they derive from their illegal activity: The traffickers received more than half a million dollars for this journey, as according to the arrested captain, the 300 Kurds had paid more than $1,500 each. With such enormous profits to be had, it is obvious that there are incentives, not just for running highly risky operations but also for setting up powerful networks to attract and receive hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants. It is no coincidence that more than 2,500 illegal migrants and 70 traffickers have been arrested in our country so far this year. The trafficking of economic migrants is growing into a worldwide business whose profits can increasingly be compared to those coming from drug- or weapons-trafficking. As Third World economies deteriorate, scores of desperate people are determined to do all it takes to cross into Europe or make it to the USA in hopes of a better life. No doubt, stricter police measures and closer bilateral cooperation on this issue – in Greece’s case with Turkey, as 2,400 of the 2,500 illegal migrants mentioned above had set out from Turkey – could restrict their activity. Curbing the phenomenon of illegal migration, however, requires broader political and economic measures. These should aim at strengthening Third World economies so that these countries can improve their current living standards. Furthermore, they should include long-term efforts to provide political acceptance of migrants, so that EU countries not only meet their labor needs but also legitimize the dreams of millions of would-be migrants.

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