483 Migrants Arrive in Greece From Libya

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483 Migrants Arrive in Greece From Libya
483 Migrants Arrive in Greece From Libya

The Greek authorities announced that 483 migrants from Libya on a dilapidated fishing boat disembarked at Crete on Thursday, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The Greek Coast Guard said Thursday that “those on board were Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Sudanese, and included 336 men, 10 women, 128 boys, and nine girls. They were all transferred Wednesday afternoon to a ferry docked in southern Crete for temporary housing,” according to the statement.

The passengers had been crammed into a 25-meter (82-foot) fishing boat that had set sail from Libya to Italy. Passengers made a distress call when the vessel ran into trouble and lost steering while sailing off Crete in the early hours of Tuesday.

A major rescue operation was mounted, involving a Greek frigate, two Coast Guard vessels, five nearby merchant ships, and two Italian-flagged fishing boats.

The statement noted that adverse weather conditions, with strong winds and rough seas, prevented the passengers from being transferred to any of the other vessels. The fishing boat was eventually towed to a port in southeastern Crete by one of the Italian-flagged fishing vessels.

Greek Migration Minister, Notis Mitarachi sent a letter to the European Commission on Tuesday afternoon, requesting that the passengers be relocated to other EU nations. He stressed that Greece and other countries on the EU’s external borders, where many migrants first arrive “cannot be expected to shoulder an ever-increasing burden out of proportion to their respective capacities.”

Tens of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa try to make their way into the EU each year via perilous sea journeys. The vast majority head to eastern Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast in small inflatable dinghies or attempt to cross directly to Italy from North Africa in larger vessels.

“Europe must prove that it is in a position to provide immediate and tangible solidarity, by moving new arrivals to other EU countries faster and in greater numbers than it has done so far,” Mitarachi said in his letter to the European Commission.

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