EU wants explanation from Turkey on migrant smugglers

EU wants explanation from Turkey on migrant smugglers

BRUSSELS - The Associated Press
The European Union wants Turkey to explain how human traffickers could have taken two cargo ships filled with migrants out of the country and toward the EU without the authorities noticing.

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said on Jan. 6 that “given what has happened in recent days with the two ships, we wanted to clarify things with the Turkish authorities.”

The cargo ships were picked up in the Mediterranean last week with more than 1,000 migrants aboard, many of them fleeing Syria. The smugglers had locked up the migrants and sent the ships speeding towards the Italian coast with no one at the helm.

Bertaud said contacts with Turkey are happening at the “political and technical level.”

She added that “it’s always the same area the cargo ships are leaving from so there is a problem that has to be resolved there.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry didn’t have an immediate response.

The EU’s border agency Frontex says the smugglers are probably business opportunists operating out of southeast Turkey and not part of any larger human trafficking network.

Spokeswoman Izabella Cooper, speaking to AP by telephone from Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, said that “there is no evidence of these networks being connected. This might just be a new business opportunity that someone has picked up in Turkey.”