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Alleged migrant smugglers arrested in Greece

July 18, 2019

Greek police have arrested 15 people suspected of facilitating migrant smuggling on two Greek islands. There are reports they charged up to €6,000 to make false travel documents.

A makeshift camp on Samos in 2018
Image: DW/F. Schmitz

State officials said on Thursday they detained people allegedly forming part of the two groups on the islands of Samos and Kos.

Six individuals, who are reported to include a security official working at Kos airport, were taken into custody this week.

They are accused of charging up to €6,000 ($6,700) per person to make false documents for migrants to travel by plane to other European countries.

Police representatives said they had detained nine people on the island of Samos the day before on charges of providing false health certificates which allowed migrants to leave the island.

Overcrowded camps

There are thousands of people in migrant camps on the islands of Kos and Samos, many in overcrowded refugee camps. The UN refugee agency UNHCR last year urged the Greek government to provide more care, highlighting a lack of sanitary provisions and medical care.

A shelter on Samos
A shelter on SamosImage: DW/J. Papadimitriou

UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley warned that conditions on Samos island were "squalid, inadequate and rapidly deteriorating." He said 2,700 people were staying in a facility which had been built for around 700.

Only minors, unaccompanied children and the sick are entitled to travel to the Greek mainland.

A robust policy

Greece's former left-wing Syriza government struggled to manage around 70,000 migrants who have been on the Greek Aegean islands since 2015.

The more conservative New Democracy party, who won a snap election this month, pledged earlier this week they would speed up asylum background checks.

New Democracy's Junior Minister for Migration, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, said he was planning a "robust” policy of sending migrants to Turkey or to their home countries.

jns/jm (AFP, dpa)

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