Migrants undeterred to make perilous journey to Europe
Turkey is a major transit road for thousands of irregular migrants from different nations, but they often suffer from deadly sea accidents and pushbacks as well as ill treatment by Greek officials.
Recently, 15 irregular Palestinians were stranded on the Süngü Island off the coast of Turkey after they were put on a raft and sent back to Turkish waters. They were rescued hours later by the Turkish Coast Guard.
The migrants told daily Milliyet that they set off from the Çeşme district of the Turkish province of İzmir on the Aegean coast to reach Greece.
They were stopped by the Greek Coast Guard that took their boat and put the migrants on a small life-raft and pushed them back to Turkey’s territorial waters, the migrants said.
They managed to reach the Süngü Island and waited for hours to be rescued.
Acting on a tipoff, the Turkish Coast Guard launched an operation to recover the stranded migrants from the island.
The migrants said they were detained for two days by Greek officials, their phones, passports and money were seized, and they were handcuffed. One woman and one child among the group were transferred to a camp in Greece while the remaining 15 people were put on a life-raft, they said, adding that they reached the island after an hours-long journey.
Their clothes were soaking wet and the first words they spelled were “we are cold.” Turkish Coast Guard officials handed the migrants blankets to keep them warm.
“We arrived in Turkey from Palestine four months ago. We traveled to İzmir from Istanbul. There is no job back home and poverty is widespread. I want to go to Europe to have a decent life. Some of my family members had gone to Switzerland and I will keep trying until I succeed,” said 26-year-old Riyad Madi.
Omar Odey, who is 24 years old, said his previous four attempts had failed, adding that Greek soldiers sent him back each time. Odey is also determined to keep trying. “I do not want to go back to Palestine. There is nothing I can do there. I just want to spend the rest of my life in any country in Europe.”
Abu Hudey from Palestine said his brother gave 1,400 euros to human traffickers to smuggle them to Greece. “But it did not happen. They confiscated everything, beat us up and sent us back. They took my passport. I don’t know what to do. This was my first time, but I won’t try again,” he added.
“There is war and conditions are bad in Palestine. I want to go to Germany. Those who managed to escape are happy where they live. I, too, will keep trying until I succeed,” said 25-year-old Ibrahim Atarne.
The Turkish Coast Guard has rescued nearly 21,000 irregular migrants, including more than 4,000 women and 4,000 children, in the Aegean Sea between Jan. 1 and Dec. 22. Around 1,800 of those rescued are Palestinians, while other include some 2,000 Somalis, 3,700 Afghans, 3,100 Syrians and 1,800 Congolese.