Migrants from Turkish-flagged ship disembark in Greece
October 31 2021 10:14 AM
A ship carrying migrants during a rescue operation seen off the island of Crete. Handout/Hellenic Co
A ship carrying migrants during a rescue operation seen off the island of Crete. Handout/Hellenic Coast Guard/AFP

AFP/Athens

Nearly 400 migrants disembarked Sunday from a Turkish-flagged cargo ship that Greece allowed to dock on its territory despite charges that Turkey had violated a migrant deal.
The ship had sent a distress signal on Friday after its engines failed in international waters, according to Greek authorities who allowed it to dock at the southeastern Aegean island of Kos early on Sunday.
The Greek Coastguard said the migrants were transported to a reception center on the island while news reports said health ministry experts would quarantine them and test them for the coronavirus.
The migration ministry said nearly 400 people disembarked from the ship, with six of them detained for questioning, but did not immediately list their nationalities.
The Athens News Agency reported that the Greek migration and shipping ministers, along with the European Commission, had contacted Turkish authorities to ask them to take back the vessel, but to no avail.
"Turkey once again failed to comply with its responsibilities towards the EU," Giannis Plakiotakis, the merchant marine minister, said Saturday.
The European Union and Ankara signed a deal in March 2016 where Turkey was to sharply reduce the flow of migrants through its territory to EU countries Bulgaria and Greece in return for billions of euros in financial aid.
Both Greece and Turkey have accused the other of failing to honour the agreement sealed after more than a million migrants and asylum seekers, many from the civil war in Syria, entered the EU in 2015.
Plakiotakis said Turkey "won't accept the return of the Turkish-flagged ship that sailed off a Turkish port."
He added that the ship set sail "obviously with the knowledge of the Turkish coastguard and (Turkey) continues to have no regard for human lives."
The Greek islands of the eastern Aegean are a first EU port of call for waves of migrants and asylum seekers coming via Turkey.
On Tuesday, four migrants, two of them children, drowned after a boat sank off the island of Chios.
The vessel had set out from Turkey amid strong winds, and none of the occupants had been given a life vest by the smugglers, the Greek Coastguard said in a statement.



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