ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities say another sailboat carrying dozens of immigrants arrived in Kythera on Thursday, the third in just under two days to travel to the southern island which is not on the usual route for asylum seekers trying to reach the European Union.
The Greek Coast Guard said 67 people were on board the sailing catamaran which arrived at a port on the west coast of Kythera and all had disembarked. Their nationalities and where they had traveled from were not immediately known.
A total of 237 migrants arrived on the island between the early hours of Wednesday and around midday Thursday. Of the two other sailboats which reached the island on Wednesday, the first washed up on the island’s south coast with 97 people on board – 93 from Afghanistan, three from Turkey and one from Pakistan, authorities said.
The passengers made it ashore themselves and no one was injured or missing. The Coast Guard said on Thursday the boat departed from the Cesme region of Turkey and the group included 55 children. The three Turkish nationals on board, aged 30, 29 and 17, were arrested as suspected migrant smugglers.
Hours later, another ship carrying 73 people – 62 Iraqis, nine Iranians and two Russians – arrived at a small port in southern Kythera, escorted by coastguards, authorities said. Those on board included 21 minors and six women. The Coast Guard said on Thursday that the two Russian nationals on board had been arrested as suspected smugglers.
Located off the southern tip of the Peloponnese, Kythera is not a target destination for the thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Most of the countries trying to enter the European Union pass from the Turkish coast to neighboring islands in the Eastern Aegean in Greece.
But with Greek authorities stepping up patrols in the region and facing persistent reports of summary deportations of new arrivals to Turkey without allowing them to seek asylum, more and more people are trying a route much longer and more dangerous directly to Italy.
The Greek authorities deny having carried out unlawful summary expulsions of asylum seekers.
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