Ukrainians Caught Smuggling Migrants to Greece from Turkey by Boat

migrant flight
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Two Ukrainian men have been charged by Greek authorities after being caught trying to ferry 53 migrants from Turkey to the Greek island of Rhodes aboard a large boat.

The two brothers were initially taken into custody on August 27th after a major Greek coast guard operation rushed to help the vessel containing the migrants around 17 nautical miles off the coast of Rhodes as someone aboard had reported an engine fire.

When the coat guard reached the vessel, no engine fire was found but authorities did transfer the 53 migrants aboard the vessel to coast guard and navy ships.

According to a report from Greek newspaper Proto Thema, the two Ukrainians denied any role in trafficking migrants to Greece, although they did admit to entering the country illegally themselves.

They claimed that they were actually passengers rather than smugglers, and that they had each paid Turkish people-smugglers 3,000 euros each to reach Greece. The pair added that the captain of the boat had abandoned it and left on another vessel prior to the arrival of the Greek authorities.

Greek prosecutors, however, were sceptical of the story of the two brothers and have decided to pursue charges for people smuggling against them.

According to Greek shipping minister Giannis Plakiotakis. the government has managed to stop at least 10,000 migrants from entering the country by sea so far this year.

“There are cases where [the Turkish coast guard] is accompanying boats with refugees and migrants to our borders and … trying to create problems,” he added.

One such “pushback” of a migrant boast took place last month in the Aegean Sea when Greek authorities fired warning shots near a migrant boat, which is said to have deterred the migrants who turned around back to Turkey.

While migration from Turkey into Greece has drastically diminished in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Turkish authorities have promised that migrants will return to the border area as soon as the health crisis is over.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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