Migrant smugglers are preparing a new route to Europe that would transfer people by sailing to Italy, says Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
After the closing of the Balkan Route that refugees used to travel from Greece to central Europe through Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, traffickers are to use alternative routes. Demand for alternative routes has been rising for weeks, says the report.
The new route migrant smugglers intend to use is through Italy. Specifically, traffickers will be using small cargo ships and fishing boats that would be departing from three different points: the seaside resort Antalya in Turkey, the Turkish city of Mersin near the Syrian border, and the Greek capital of Athens.
According to FAZ, the “fare” for such a trip ranges between 3,000 and 5,000 euros, which is much more expensive than traveling the usual route from the Turkish shores to one of the nearby Greek islands.
The agreement struck between the European Union and Turkey about shipping migrants back to Turkey has slowed the migrant influx substantially. Also, the closing of all northern borders to Greece — FYROM, Bulgaria, Albania — is forcing migrants and refugees to seek alternative ways to reach the more prosperous central and northern Europe.
According to the report, some of the smugglers aimed to offer two trips per week, and at least one claimed he could fit 200 people on a boat. They also advised migrants to stay below deck until the vessels reached international waters.
At the same time, hundreds of thousands of migrants have gathered in Libya waiting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy.