Over 11,000 refugees and migrants have rushed to the Greek islands in the last three days while government officials were apparently preoccupied with the EU summit in Brussels, thereby presenting Turkish smugglers with a golden opportunity to conduct their highly lucrative but deadly business of human trafficking.
Thus, while only 51 refugees and migrants had managed to land on Greek shores on February 14 and approximately 180 on February 15, the numbers skyrocketed after that: 1,783 on February 16, 4,611 on February 17, and 4,824 on February 18, while very high numbers were also recorded on February 19.
These numbers are simply unbearable for many Greek islands which lack proper infrastructure and have permanent populations much less than the number of refugees that land there on an almost daily basis.
In Kastellorizo, for example, which has a permanent population of barely 250 souls, some 1000 refugees and migrants have landed there the last few days, thereby converting the remote southeastern Greek island which lies roughly one mile off the south coast of Turkey into yet another hotspot.
More than 3,000 refugees and migrants have landed in the last two days in Lesvos, a hotspot which operates quite effectively according to Greek authorities.
The question of course that should be on everyone’s mind is what happened to the NATO patrols in the Aegean sea: Did the ship crews opt to take a temporary shore leave?
Be that as it may, the number of refugees that have landed on Greek islands the last few days speaks volumes to how far away Europe is in solving the biggest migration crisis the world has seen since the Second World War. And if NATO patrols are incapable of halting human trafficking, isn’t it perhaps time to consider the Greek Navy doing so?