ATHENS – Amid worries Turkey will try to bring refugees and migrants to Greek islands in big ships instead of letting human traffickers send them in tiny boats and rubber dinghies, the Greek Coast Guard kept close watch on a Turkish tanker that was near the islands of Samos and Chios, off Turkey’s coast.
The two islands, as well as Leros, Kos and Lesbos, are flooded with some 42,000 refugees and migrants who first went to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands to get to Greece to try to seek asylum.
That was after the European Union closed its borders to them and other countries reneged on promises to help take some of the overload, and with the EU’s last two migration chiefs, both from the now-ruling New Democracy, doing little to help.
The Turkish tanker, said Kathimerini, was between Chios and Samos, moving between Turkish and international waters and was closely monitored to make sure it wouldn’t deliberately beach as another had done on Tzia, an hour away from Greece’s coast.
The Coast Guard believed the tanker was carrying more migrants, the paper said, and had special units ready to board if it appeared the ship would try to hit one of the islands and strand the people there for Greece to handle.
After four hours of being followed, the tanker headed away into Turkish waters near the major Greek island of Rhodes with the Captain refusing to answer any attempt to contact him and with no verification there were migrants aboard.
Health inspectors visited Tzia to test 190 migrants who have been in quarantine on the island since a Turkish smuggling ship ran aground there on March 16. They were being tested for Covid-19 ahead of their scheduled transfer to a mainland camp at some point.