Greek officials implored Turkey to try to stop the movement of migrants and refugees from its soil, charging that the individuals who have come over from that nation recently — particularly from Somalia — appear to have been part of a coordinated group.
Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said in a news briefing that more than half of the people arriving on the island of Lesvos from Turkey since November 1 of this year were from Somalia.
There were a total of 214 migrants reaching Lesvos during that time and 142 were from that country, he said.
Mitarakis further stated at the press conference that he was aware that “Currently there are between two and three thousand migrants on the Turkish west coast,” according to a report from Reuters.
Somalis crossing the Aegean
The Migration Minister stated that Somalians were routinely obtaining student or healthcare visas for Turkey, and would then attempt to make the crossing to Greece with the help of criminal gangs.
“These people are essentially arriving legally in Turkey, for the express purpose of illegal trafficking into Europe,” the Greek official charged.
Since 2015, during the height of the economic crisis in Greece, hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, mainly from the Middle East, have come over to the country by land or sea from Turkey.
In 2016, a written agreement between the European Union and Turkish authorities was supposed to have restricted the flow; however, although the numbers have a bated somewhat since that time, people continue to enter Greece illegally from Turkey.
Millions of euros were spent by the European Union according to the precepts of the agreement in an attempt to help Turkey take care of the refugees and migrants on its own soil, so that they would not be as likely to continue on to European shores.
“There should be no doubt; this isn’t about geopolitics,” Mitarakis stated on Tuesday. “It’s about illegal trafficking of people into the European Union.
“We are simply asking Turkey to uphold its obligation by helping us to proactively manage, and limit, illegal migration.”