Tragedy in Aegean Sea Highlights EU-Turkey Deal Weaknesses

The sinking of a migrant boat in the Aegean Sea that killed four people shows the weakness of the agreement between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of uncontrolled migration to Western countries, the Greek Immigration Minister said Wednesday (27/10).

Minister Notis Mitarachi said victims in the crash that occurred off the east coast of the Greek island of Chios, in which two children and two adults from Somalia died in the tragedy, should never have been allowed to leave the Turkish coast in a crowded smuggler’s dinghy.

Greece is the main entry point into the European Union for Asians or Africans fleeing conflict or poverty in their own country. They mostly left Turkey in boats unfit for sailing. Tighter patrols imposed by Greek authorities, assisted by the European Union’s border agency, have restricted the inflow of migrants in recent years after about one million people entered EU countries in 2015.

Mitarachi told a news conference that four people from the boat that sank on Monday were still reported missing, while 22 Somalis, Eritreans and Sudanese were rescued. Three of them are currently undergoing treatment in hospital.

He said the boat sinking “highlights the cruel reality of the exploitation of migrants” by criminal gangs on the move in Turkey.

Greece has designated Turkey as a safe country for citizens of Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Migrants from all five countries are known for their reluctance to cross illegally from Turkey to Greece. [lt/jm]

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