Greek authorities announced Friday that four Turkish nationals had been detained on suspicion of smuggling migrants after a boat with about 100 people on board was discovered in distress off an island close to Athens.
The four were among the 97 persons who were on board the boat that was discovered on Thursday about northeast of the island of Kea, which is located off the southeast coast of the Greek capital. According to the coast guard, the remaining passengers included 39 youngsters, 32 males, and 22 women.
According to the coast guard, the travelers came from Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Israel, and Iraq. They were transported to the Greek mainland by a coast guard vessel. The migrants paid traffickers in Turkey 8,000 euros each for the voyage, and the boat set sail from the Turkish port of Izmir with a destination of Italy.
Each year, tens of thousands of people risk their lives at sea in an attempt to enter the European Union as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The vast majority attempt to cross directly to Italy from north Africa and Turkey in larger vessels or travel to the nearby Turkish coast in small inflatable dinghies to reach the eastern Greek islands.