MYTELENE, Lesvos. The Greek Coast Guard said another 9,609 refugees and migrants seeking asylum landed in October on islands near Turkey, which has let human traffickers send them during a suspended swap deal with the European Union.
That came in 253 separate landings as the Coast Guard and European Union border patrol agency Frontex couldn’t stop them and as Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his government would close island camps and create detention centers to sort out those ineligible for sanctuary.
Twenty-eight people were arrested on migrant smuggling charges and 53 vessels, mostly rickety boats and flimsy inflatable rafts were also seized after the landings, authorities said, The October numbers were the highest for any month in 2019, worrying officials who fear that there will be more even during worsening weather, resparking a crisis that began in 2015 when the Radical Left SYRIZA was in power.
Most all those landing came from Turkey, which is a jumping-off point for them to get to Greece after the EU closed its borders to them and other countries reneged on promises to help take some of the overload.
Another 117 tried to leave Greece unlawfully, or with forged travel documents, mainly by sea. A total of 110 incidents were recorded, with 25 alleged smugglers arrested, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.