Mafia Style “Free Market” keeps Refugee flow between Turkey and Greece
The end of the summer arrives accompanied by ghoulish rebates for refugee ‘clients’ wishing to cross from Turkey to Greece by the dangerous route of the Aegean.
Gangs of traffickers cashing in with this crisis have decided to improve their offers and change the discourse in view of the fall in the numbers of ‘clients’ since the start of the agreement between the EU and Turkey, that sought to curb the number of refugees entering EU territory via the Turkish border on its western coast.
So, the risky journey in a boat overloaded with people from Turkish soil towards Greek islands like Lesbos, Chios, Kos, Rhodes and Kalymnos can be up to about 230 euros, according to police sources from the Turkish coastal city of Izmir cited by the local newspaper ‘Hürriyet’.
The price has had a succulent discount considering that, a year ago, it was necessary to pay between 800 and 1,300 euros for the same trip.
The Syrian captain of a merchant ship, Mohamed Hassan Hajira, which provides maritime assistance so the boats arrive safely to land, confirmed to the newspaper that the average ticket is now 500 and 600 euros. His job is part of the work done by an NGO called Red Alert Refugees,
The lure of lower cost trips comes as a new attempt to capture refugees.
The techniques used by traffickers have become more sophisticated and now they take advantage of the delicate moment in relations between Brussels and Ankara to ensure that the immigration pact, which has yet fringes that cause friction between the two partners, will fail soon. That reality would entail an easier path for refugees to move within Europe’s borders.
The number of arrivals to Greek soil has been drastically reduced since the entry into force of the EU-Turkey agreement on March 20, although the agreement has not been able to prevent all arrivals.
Captain Mohamed maintains that the numbers are much higher than those recorded by the Greek authorities and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
For example, Athens had 21 arrivals on Thursday, while the Syrian navy reported that there had been anywhere between 400 and 500 of them.
The Greek authorities warned that the number could continue to rise in September. June saw the arrival of 1554, while 1,920 made it through in July, In August, some 3,447 people got across into Greece and at least 900 more have arrived during the first half of September.
The Turkish coastguard also highlighted the disruption of an increasing number of trips since June, when they arrested 538 people. In July the figure was 881, in August they stopped 1,604 people and another 948 in the first nine days of September.
The International Organization for Migration indicates that so far 386 people have died this year while attempting to cross the Aegean at least, while 165.000 others have managed to reach Greece.
According to the UNHCR, 48% of these are of Syrian nationality, followed by Afghans, who account for 25% and Iraqi for another 15%.
On 18 March, Turkey and the EU agreed on a plan by which Ankara would be responsible for monitoring more thoroughly their borders and to receive all the migrants whose asylum applications were rejected in the Greek islands.
In return for the monitoring, Brussels pledged 6 billion euros to develop projects for refugees on Turkish territory and to resume negotiations for accession to the European Union.
Those negotiations would include giving visas for certain cases among Turkish citizens, such as students or businessmen if Turkey fulfilled 72 points included in the agreement.