Two sailboats carrying dozens of migrants arrived on a southern Greek island early Wednesday, with the first one running aground on rocks. Nobody was reported injured or missing.
The coast guard said the first sailboat, which ran aground on the southern coast of Kythira early Wednesday, had been carrying 97 people, 93 of them from Afghanistan, three from Turkey and one from Pakistan. Local media reported that those on board included five women and five children.
The exact number of passengers on the second boat – which arrived around midday – and their nationalities were not immediately known, the coast guard said.
The coast guard said the sailboat had 97 people on board. It did not have details of their nationalities.
Local news website KytheraNews reported they were believed to be from Afghanistan and included five women and children aged between 3 and 12.
The website published photos of a sailboat with its bow on the rocks and a video, and pictures of a large group of people walking from a small harbour up a street and past white-washed houses.
It was not immediately clear where the vessel had set sail from, and when.
The most common sea route into European Union member Greece for asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa has long been from Turkey to the nearby Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
Greece recognises Turkey as a “safe third country” for asylum seekers from Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria.
The Greek government believes that individuals from these countries are not in danger in Turkey and are thus not in need of security in Europe. The notion of a ‘safe third country’ allows the Greek government to refuse asylum petitions from nationals of these countries and deport them back to Turkey on the basis that Turkey is a secure country.
As a result, asylum applicants who arrived in Greece from Turkey may be returned to Turkey without having their claims considered by Greek officials