Migrant Crisis 2.0: People Smugglers Slash EU Passage Prices to £11 After Turkey Opens the Gates

MYTILENE, GREECE - OCTOBER 22: Afghan men argue outside of the main gate as violence escalates for migrants waiting to be processed at the increasingly overwhelmed Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on October 22, 2015 in Mytilene, Greece. Dozens of rafts and boats are still making the journey …
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Turkish people-smugglers are reportedly operating freely along the border with Greece, charging migrants as low as £11 a head to help them get past Greek border patrol guards.

Greece has stopped tens of thousands of migrants attempting to illegally enter the European Union through its land border with Turkey, yet many migrants are still attempting to cross into Greece illegally by crossing the Evros River near the Turkish town of Erdine.

The Greek military has installed loudspeakers along the river, playing a message telling the migrants to “go back”. However, people-smugglers operating in the area say that they have been given a free pass by Turkish President Erdogan to smuggle migrants across the border.

“We had these migrants who arrived to cross Greece. It has become something allowed from our Turkish side. In the past, we used to get them across for $200 or $300 (£150-£230) per person and now we do it for $15 (£11),” a people-smuggler named Semih told Euronews.

“Of course I see it as my duty. It’s money that motivates me. I want them to go away from here [the migrants] so that Turkey’s economy gets better. That’s all that matters to me,” he added.

Another migrant smuggler named Cevat said: “Currently, migrants continue to flock here. Thousands of people, it’s even hard to say exactly how many. Thousands of people pass through here from evening to morning.”

“Our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given instructions on this subject, he has given his agreement for them [migrants] to leave. But on the Greek side, we are rather experiencing difficulties. Just a short while ago, right over there, Greek soldiers pointed their guns at us,” he added.

There are approximately 3.6 million asylum seekers in Turkey, and last week President Erdogan said that he will “open the gates” to migrants seeking to enter into Europe if the EU does not support his military actions in Syria.

Following a visit to the Greek border by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, the EU pledged €700 million (£608m) in aid to Greece to protect the border from waves of migrants, according to The Telegraph. The bloc will also send 100 guards from Frontex, the European border security force, alongside two helicopters, a plane, and seven patrol boats to help deal with the growing crisis.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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