The Greek coast guard rescued 101 men who had set off by boat from the western coast of Turkey. The migrants – mostly from Afghanistan – were taken to the island of Leros.
The Hellenic (Greek) coast guard rescued 101 people on Sunday (March 13) after their boat got into trouble north of the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea.
A spokeperson from the coast guard told InfoMigrants that all of those on the boat were men from Afghanistan and Iraq. He added that they were in good health.
All the migrants have been transferred to the island of Leros, one of the five Aegean island hotspots near the Turkish coast, the spokesperson said.
Bound for Italy
The migrants had set off by boat from the western coast of Turkey and had been heading for Italy, the harbor police told the AFP news agency on Sunday. The agency said that following the rescue they were taken to port on Paros to undergo coronavirus tests.
According to the coast guard, the boat in which the migrants had been travelling was in poor condition.
Last December, at least 31 people died when their boat sank off Paros. Until then the Aegean island had not been on a major migrant route.
In recent years, the number of migrants reaching the Greek islands in the northwestern Aegean Sea has fallen. Smugglers are reported to be trying to avoid Greek patrol boats in the Aegean and choosing more dangerous sea routes from Turkey. Turkey has repeatedly accused Greece of pushing back asylum seekers in violation of international law.
26 people left 'helplessly drifting': Aegean Boat Report
Meanwhile the Aegean Boat Report (ABR), which monitors and reports on movement of migrants in the Aegean Sea, says the Greek coast guard returned at least 26 migrants to Turkey in what it called an illegal pushback last week.
The ABR reports that on the island of Chios between March 7-8, at least 45 people arrived in two separate landings. Nineteen of the migrants were registered in the quarantine facility in Lefkonia, while another 26 were "deported by the Greek authorities in a rubber boat without an engine," according to ABR. The group was left "helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea" by the coast guard, the organization said.
According to ABR, the Greek authorities carried out at least 53 similar pushbacks in the Aegean last month.