Migration Crisis Made in Turkey: More than 500 people have arrived on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos by Sunday noon, while more are reportedly on the way to Greece. The plastic boats started leaving from six different locations in west coast of Turkey since the early morning hours of Sunday. Arriving migrants said that they were guided by traffickers and Turkish authorities to specific locations in the West coast where boats were waiting for them. At the same time, the Greek Coast Guard says that the Turkish Coast Guard does not respond to calls to tug the migrants boats back to the country.
So far, Lesvos has received the largest number of new arrivals with ten boats and 300 passengers onboard. Four boats carried a total of 125 people to Chios and two brought 80 to Samos.
Some of the migrants and refugees managed to reach the islands and disembark, others had to be rescued by the Greek Coast Guard.
They were all handed out surgical masks as a prevention measure against the coronavirus.
“37 out of 54 people who arrived with a boat to Sykamia tis morning were children,” notes photographer Marios Lolos.
βάρκες στην συκαμια λεσβου. απο τους 54 τα 37 ηταν παιδια.
— lolos marios (@lolosmarios) March 1, 2020
All of new arrivals are being transported to the Reception and Identification Centers of the islands to be counted and identified.
They said that they paid traffickers between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000. They added that they had been living in parts of Istanbul for months and that three days ago they were told by the traffickers to get ready to leave for Europe. They were transferred to forestland near the shores of western Turkey with overloaded buses and private vehicles. Upon arrival they had to wait for the weather to improve.
They reportedly told Greek authorities that while they were waiting for get on the boats, “many uniformed officers, including armed men” were standing by.
New arrivals on Chios via politischios.
According to local media stonisi, local and regional authorities have called on residents to block the road leading to the hot spot of Moria in order to prevent the coast guard buses bringing the new arrivals there.
Locals from neighboring villages were quick to respond to the call.
A drift inside the port of Thermi, Mytiline, a dinghy loaded with refugees and children has been waiting for …rescue. Locals on the dock argue on how to be rescued, some propose to inform the port authorities, others say they should to be sent back and “not go onboard on first place.”
Live streaming by stonisi.gr
A bit later…
— Giorgos Christides (@g_christides) March 1, 2020
ERT TV reported that the boat had lost the engine and the passengers used their hands as rows to bring it to the port.
One refugee boat with broken engine in distress 1,5 km away from the shore of #lesvos. Coastguard in 1km distance, but the do not rescue the people since more then two hours. I urge the @hcoastguard to immediately rescue these people.
— Erik Marquardt (@ErikMarquardt) March 1, 2020
While the Greek Coast Guard and the Navy has been enhanced in the East Aegean Sea, monitoring movements of boats coming form Turkey, the Turkish Coast Guard reportedly does not respond to calls by their Greek colleagues.
Media reported of an incident, where the Greeks informed the Turks that a boat had left the western Coast. The Turkish CG vessels arrived with about two hours delay, but did nothing with the overcrowded and ungovernable dinghy to remain adrift for several hours.
With the Greek land borders closed and the Migration Crisis in full peak, it is expected that more boats will arrive at the islands in the next hours and days as Ankara is determined to continue its “open borders policy” without fearing consequences by anyone.
PS According to EU-Turkey deal of 2016, cooperation between the two coast guards is a must. Another violation of the deal, however, for the EU is still Sunday.