Greece's coastguard picks up migrants off Lesbos as boat arrivals resume

File photo taken May 13, 2020: A temporary Covid-19 testing station was set up at a migrant and refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos after cases were detected there.
File photo taken May 13, 2020: A temporary Covid-19 testing station was set up at a migrant and refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos after cases were detected there. © Manolis Lagoutaris, AFP

Thirty-six migrants travelling from Turkey were spotted off Lesbos and transferred to a temporary settlement in the north of the island, Greece’s coastguard said Sunday.

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Among the group, “one person had to be hospitalised”, an official for the coastguard press office told AFP, without giving further details.

The rest of the group were safely transferred to a migrant facility on Lesbos and quarantined for seven days under measures to combat coronavirus, the source said.

According to the Greek state news agency ANA, the group is made up of 10 women, 10 children and 16 men, all from Iran and Afghanistan.

Their boat was spotted on Saturday morning but the rescue and transfer operation did not take place until midnight, according to the coastguard.

Migrant advocacy NGOs Aegean Boat Report and Watch the Med denounced the Greek and Turkish coastguards on social media for leaving the boat in distress offshore “for 14 hours”, while they both attempted to palm off responsibility.

A boat carrying 36 people, 11 children, 10 women and 16 men, was taken to port Petra by HCG just before midnight last...

Publiée par Aegean Boat Report sur Dimanche 14 juin 2020

With the boat in their waters on Saturday evening, the Greek coastguard finally rescued the migrants.

Migrants trying to reach Europe to flee war and poverty frequently use this narrow route between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea.

There have been numerous reports from NGOs and the media published in recent months accusing Greece of driving migrants back towards Turkey.

On Friday the UN’s refugee agency, the International Organization for Migration and the EU called on Athens to “urgently open an investigation” into the matter and “take the necessary measures”.

It is the third boat to arrive in Lesbos since the beginning of June.

A total of 108 migrants have been rescued off the island in the last two weeks, according to ANA, an increase in numbers after a significant drop in previous months due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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