US-Flagged Yacht Carrying 71 Migrants Stopped off Greece

FILE - Rescue workers from the Proactiva Open Arms Spanish NGO retrieve the bodies of an adult and a child amid the drifting remains of a destroyed migrant boat off the Libyan coast, on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Proactiva Open Arms via AP)

A yacht bearing an American flag was stopped in waters off western Greece by authorities and found to be carrying 71 migrants to nearby Italy, reports said.

The Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said the yacht was stopped in the Gulf of Patras following a tip-off.
The ministry said the suspects were identified as 25- and 27-year-old foreign citizens. No details were available on the nationalities of the migrants.

Thousands of migrants enter Greece illegally every year, mostly by sea from Turkey.

Border crackdowns by other European countries have made it increasingly difficult for them to continue their journeys to Europe’s prosperous heartland.

Greece is holding more than 64,000 refugees and migrants in detention centers and camps, including more than 15,000 on islands, with the numbers growing during a suspended European Union swap deal with Turkey, which continues to let human traffickers operate.

With most coming to Greece via rubber dinghies and small boats from Turkey, where they went first to escape war and strife in the Middle East and North Africa, more are trying to enter through the land border in northern Greece almost weekly.

Patra, Greece’s third-largest city, has seen thousands of refugees and migrants hiding out and trying to stow away on boats to Italy.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)