Human Smugglers Change Tactics to Convince Refugees to Undertake Perilous Aegean Crossing



Refugees arrive on the shores of the island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey

Human smugglers trying to convince refugees and migrants to make the dangerous journey to Greek islands are up to new tricks. Taking advantage of the confusion caused in the row between Turkey and the European Union over the implementation of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, the smugglers are telling migrants that the deal will fall apart, hence they should make the perilous journey while they still can.

The EU-Turkey agreement was struck in mid-March when Turkey agreed to take back irregular migrants reaching Greece in return for the EU taking Syrian refugees from Turkish camps. The EU also agreed to fund Turkey with 6 billion euros to be used for Syrian refugees. Other motivating factors in the deal were accelerated EU accession talks and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. Unfortunately, the deal is now up in the air as Turkey won’t change its anti-terror law.

The price of the perilous sea crossing this year has dropped to 250 dollars from 1,000-1,500 dollars the year before in an effort to attract more refugees. Last year, more than 1 million migrants entered the EU, mainly from Turkey.

After a brief pause, figures of arrivals increased following the failed coup. Greek authorities say that 960 refugees and migrants entered the country, arriving on either Lesbos, Chios and Samos from September 1-12. The UNHCR places the figure at 1,458.