MIGRANT RESCUE OPERATIONS IN GREECE

CNC
Added On June 12, 2018

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SOUNDBITE(GREEK): GEORGE CHRISTIANOS, Greek Coast Guard Commander
“The most important thing is to be out at sea. To be responsible, to provide adequate search and rescue operations for human lives, to safeguard the Greek and European sea borders and to fight any illegal activity at the sea.”
 
The Aegean Sea route between Turkey and Greece has been the major route for migrants fleeing the Middle Eastern countries to Europe.
 
But, according to Christianos, the number of people illegally crossing the Aegean Sea has dropped significantly after the signing of the EU-Turkey agreement.
 
SOUNDBITE(GREEK): GEORGE CHRISTIANOS, Greek Coast Guard Commander
“In 2017, smugglers illegally transferred 31,000 migrants from the Turkish shores to the Greek islands and European soil. In 2018, the number has stabilized monthly to 3,000. These numbers are manageable by the Greek coast guard with the contribution and the cooperation of the European means.”
 
Since 2015 over one million migrants and refugees entered the Greek islands from the Turkish shores.
 
SOUNDBITE(GREEK): GEORGE CHRISTIANOS, Greek Coast Guard Commander
“Unfortunately, most of the operations were search and rescue because the boats they used were small, inflatable boats, without the required seaworthy certifications. We saw boats sized 6-7 meters with 50 to 60 persons without lifejackets.”
   
Two facts contributed to stem the flow of refugees and migrants; the contribution of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to the Greek Coast Guards' efforts and the EU-Turkey statement agreement in 2016.
   
More than 50 coast guard boats patrol day and night at the Eastern part of the Aegean Sea in cooperation.
   
A total of 2,000 seamen from Greece and Europe are at the frontline to surveil the European and Greek borders and provide help to migrants who need to be traced and rescued.
   
Apart from the search and rescue operations, the Greek coast guard has stepped up its efforts in combating the drug trafficking rings and illegal trade especially in regions near the sea borders where there is no migrant activity, like offshore in south of Crete, or in south of Peloponnese.
   
According to the latest data, in 2017 and 2018 more than 100 boats that performed illegal trade have been traced, there have been more than 500 arrests for drug trafficking and other illegal products.