Human smugglers turn to speed boats to traffic migrants across Aegean
ÇANAKKALE – Anadolu Agency
AP photoHuman smugglers have started using speed boats for the illegal transportation of migrants trying to reach Europe, the governor of the western Turkish province Çanakkale told state-run Anadolu Agency on March 15.
“Human smugglers always change their tactics. In the face of this, we are also trying to develop our own tactics, pushing our limits,” said Hamza Erkal.
Erkal said many smugglers were now opting to use speed boats, rather than plastic dinghies or other low-speed boats that have previously been widely used to carry tens of thousands of migrants across the Aegean to the Greek islands.
Thousands of people have died in the Aegean and Mediterranean in recent years in efforts to reach EU member countries.
“Before, they tended to cross from Ayvacık [a district on Turkey’s Aegaen coast] to the Greek island of Lesbos in plastic boats. Then, when monitoring by our gendarmerie, police and coastal guard teams increased, they started to make attempts to cross using faster boats. Lesbos is five-and-a-half nautical miles from the coast of Ayvacık ... If they can cross two-and-a-half nautical miles of Turkish territorial waters in 10 to 15 minutes, they have a chance of evading Turkish coast guards. So many human smugglers are now choosing faster boats,” said Erkal.
He also added that his governorate has sent orders to all ports, including smaller fishing ports, not to shelter such speedboats, which ordinarily cost around 5,000 Turkish Liras but are now sold to human smugglers for around 50-60,000 liras.