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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:18 pm 
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Greek police save 54 migrants squashed into unventilated van
12 October 2017

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Police in northern Greece have rescued 54 migrants found squashed into a van, and arrested two Bulgarian alleged members of a smuggling ring paid to carry them through the country.

A police statement says the van was stopped Wednesday on a road in the northeastern Rodopi province. It said the 52 Syrian and 2 Somali nationals - including 13 minors - were crammed into the 4-by-2.5-meter (13-by-8-foot) back of the van, which lacked ventilation and was locked from the outside. The two Bulgarians, aged 36 and 38, were charged with illegally transporting migrants and endangering lives.

Police said Thursday that each of the adults had paid 1,500 euros ($1,700) to be taken from Greece's land border with Turkey, which they had crossed illegally, to the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:56 am 
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3 dead, several missing as boat with migrants sinks off Greece
By DEREK GATOPOULOS and SUZAN FRAZER
3 November 2017

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Authorities in Greece and Turkey say at least three people have died and several more are believed to be missing after a boat carrying migrants from Turkey sank off the Greek island of Kalymnos.

The Greek coast guard said 15 people were rescued and one body was recovered after the wooden boat sank in mild weather conditions before dawn Friday. Two other bodies believed to be from the same vessel were found by the Turkish coast guard. A search for the missing migrants continued in Greek waters.

Greece has seen a spike in arrivals of migrants and refugees in recent months - rising to an average rate of 200 per day, according to the government. In two other incidents early Friday, 127 people were rescued from boats in distress near the Greek island of Chios.

Greece's government says an agreement last year between the European Union and Turkey to combat migrant trafficking is not in danger of collapsing, despite a strain in relations between the EU and Ankara. Migrants who arrived on Greek islands after that agreement took effect in March 2016 are not allowed to travel to the mainland before their asylum claim has been examined - causing serious overcrowding at government-run camps. "What's happening is that the EU-Turkey deal is only being half implemented, because the part that involves migrants being returned to Turkey is not happening," Chios Mayor Michalis Vournous told a parliamentary committee briefing in Athens on Thursday.

Vournous and other Greek island mayors said the government and the EU have delayed promised assistance to deal with the rising numbers of migrants. "The situation must be alleviated on the islands for the sake of the local economy and local society. Island life needs to return to normal," he said.

Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:27 am 
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Greece-bound boat with 310 migrants stopped in Turkey
4 November 2017

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkish authorities say 310 migrants have been stopped from crossing the Aegean Sea to reach Greece.

Turkey's coast guard said the migrants were stopped Friday afternoon while travelling in a fishing boat south of the Dardanelles in western Turkey. The coast guard says the passengers included 110 Syrians, 179 Pakistanis and Afghan, Indian, Sri Lankan, Somali and Iranian nationals. It says seven Turkish and two Belarusian nationals who are thought to be migrant smugglers also were on board.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that more than 857,000 migrants reached Greece from Turkey in 2015. A March 2016 deal between Turkey and the European Union dramatically reduced the number of people attempting the trip. More than 3.2 million Syrians who fled their country's civil war have ended up in Turkey.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:50 pm 
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Italy probes deaths of 26 Nigerian women from migrant boats
6 November 2017

Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women - most of them teenagers - whose bodies were recovered at sea.

There are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean. Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno.

A Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked there carrying 375 migrants and the dead women, following several rescues. Twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people. Italian media report that the women's bodies are being kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of them were aged 14-18.

Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, the daily La Repubblica reports. Among them were 90 women - eight of them pregnant - and 52 children. There were also some Libyan men and women on board.

People-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (£4,578) to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya, according to the Italian aid group L'Abbraccio. Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse, by the gangs.

In the year to 1 November, 150,982 migrants arrived in southern Europe by boat from North Africa, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports. Of them, 111,552 (nearly 75%) came via the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. The number who died on that route was 2,639, the IOM says.

The others arrived in Greece, Cyprus or Spain. The total is less than half the 335,158 who arrived in the same period of 2016. Last year the total for Greece was higher than that for Italy.

Source: BBC News

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:43 pm 
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Spain rescues 250 migrants in Mediterranean
11 November 2017

BARCELONA (AFP) - Spanish authorities said they rescued over 250 migrants, including children, on Saturday who were making the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

"We saved 251 people from five improvised vessels all in the Alboran Sea," Spain's maritime safety authorities said on Twitter, referring to the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea.

The number of migrants arriving by sea on Spanish shores has soared over last year, with the figure nearly tripling to 15,585 in 2017 by November 8, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Many Africans undertaking the long route to Europe are choosing to avoid crossing danger-ridden Libya to get to Italy along the so-called central Mediterranean route, and choosing instead to get there via Morocco and Spain. However, Spain is still well behind Italy, which has recorded some 114,400 arrivals by sea since since the start of the year. Since January nearly 15,600 migrants have made it to Spain by sea, with 156 dying during the crossing, according to the IOM.

The agency estimates that some 155,850 migrants have made the dangerous crossing to Europe this year and another 2,961 died or went missing while trying.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:21 pm 
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Greek police block migrants' march to border with Macedonia
By COSTAS KANTOURIS
15 November 2017

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Police blocked some 200 migrants and asylum-seekers Wednesday from leaving a city in northern Greece for the Macedonian border in hopes of traveling on to other European Union countries.

Dozens of officers in riot gear used shields to push back the migrants near the center of Thessaloniki and blocked the road with police buses. The marchers, who included families with young children, refused to leave and sat down in the street. No one was hurt in the brief confrontation. The migrants, most of them from Syria, Iraq and Somalia, had gathered throughout the day in Thessaloniki. Many said they were responding to a campaign on social media for a march to the Greece-Macedonia border to protest their inability to relocate to other European countries. "I have no reason to stay here," Ahmed Mohammed, an asylum-seeker from Syria, told The Associated Press. "I've been here for six months, first on (the island of) Chios and then I went to Athens. I can't work. I can't do anything."

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees who first arrived in Greece remain stranded in the country. Some countries have strengthened their borders to prevent immigrants from arriving illegally, while others have refused to take in asylum-seekers under an EU distribution plan. The people who gathered in Thessaloniki said they had intended to walk some 70 kilometers (45 miles) north to the border town of Idomeni, where a huge refugee camp sprung up and was cleared last year after Balkan countries closed off a popular route to the European Union.

Greek officials have conceded that a European Union agreement with Turkey to prevent refugees and migrants from trying to reach Europe has reduced the number of people attempting the trip, but say provisions to return those who made it to Greek islands to Turkey face major delays. Yiannis Balafas, a Greek deputy minister for migration, visited Thessaloniki Wednesday to promote a voluntary deportation program that would see migrants returned to their home countries. "Greece has transformed from a transit country for migrants to one that traps them," Balafas said. "That's why a voluntary return program could be so helpful."

Source: AP

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