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Cruise ship rescues over 100 migrants stranded at sea near Greece

Maltese cruise ship Marella Discovery has rescued 111 migrants, including 33 children, near Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula on 20 July 2019. The migrants were picked up after their boat was found in distress about 74 kilometres from the shore.

German news agency Deutsche Welle reported that the migrants were taken to the Greek port of Kalamata where they were handed over to the Greek coast guard. Authorities immediately arrested two of the boat’s operators during the handover.

Although the nationalities of those onboard have not yet been disclosed, this sea crossing is popular with Afghan migrants attempting to reach Europe irregularly.

According to IOM Greece, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) reported at least 13 incidents requiring search and rescue operations between 19–25 July 2019 off the islands of Lesvos, Karpathos, Leros, Kos, Samothraki, Symi and the port of Alexandroupolis.

However, search and rescue operations do not always reach distressed boats on time. Over 700 migrants have lost their lives so far this year while attempting to travel irregularly to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

IOM indicated that almost 19,000 migrants had arrived in Greece so far this year. A similar number are currently living in overcrowded camps with very low hygiene standards on Greek islands.

Countries like Italy, Greece and Spain have been working to decrease the numbers of irregular migrants arriving at their shores. In a bid to improve surveillance of Greek waters, EU border agency Frontex recently supplied the coast guard with a crewless airship. This unmanned aerial vehicle can fly as high as 1,000 metres.

Main departure and transit points like Libya, Morocco and Turkey are also receiving continuous European support to manage the flow of irregular migrants.

TMP – 20/08/2019

Photo credit: 1AdesiA1 / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: The luxury cruise ship which rescued the migrants.