In yet another episode of people trying to enter Greece unlawfully, a 6-year-old girl drowned when a small boat crammed with immigrants trying to enter Greece illegally sank off an eastern Aegean Sea islet, the Merchant Marine Ministry said, although 21 people, mainly Syrians, were rescued after the vessel foundered for unknown reasons May 15 off Farmakonissi. The nationality of the drowned child was not available.
Uninhabited Farmakonissi, just off the Turkish coast, is regularly used by human trafficking rings to drop off people who pay them huge fees to be clandestinely taken into Greece, which is the southernmost entry point into the European Union and a gateway for illegals who want to seek asylum or use the country as a jumping-off point to get to other destinations.
Fatal sea accidents are frequent, with smuggling rings piling migrants into overcrowded, rickety craft to make the short but often rough crossing from Turkey. With a new fence on the border with Turkey limiting access, more people are turning toward trying to come into Greece by boat.