Swimming to Europe

2015-09-30 21:15
A volunteer holds a Syrian child after arriving with a group of migrants from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. (Santi Palacios, AP)

A volunteer holds a Syrian child after arriving with a group of migrants from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. (Santi Palacios, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Idomeni - Relief agencies have set up a tent city at Greece's border with Macedonia to cope with the growing number of migrants trying to reach central Europe ahead of winter - with some resorting to extreme measures to complete the journey.

The facilities that have been set up over the past week have a capacity of 1 000 to serve one of the busiest bottlenecks in the country, near the Greek border town of Idomeni.

Syrian English literature student Hussam Jaban, 21, told The Associated Press he swam to a Greek island from the Turkish coast to avoid paying smugglers and keep enough money for the mainland journey through Europe.

"There were 13 of us and we all made it," Jaban said, moments before crossing into Macedonia on foot. "We had a small inflatable boat for a three-year-old child and we pushed it along."

Jaban said it took him four hours to swim from the small Turkish resort of Kas to the eastern Greek island of Castellorizo.

The numbers of migrants arriving to Greece's islands exploded over the summer months, with more than 5 000 people per day making the Aegean Sea journey so far in September, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

About 70% of the arrivals are from Syria and most continue their journey through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary toward more prosperous northern European nations.

Smugglers don't care

In the past 24 hours, around 4 500 people arrived at the Idomeni crossing, most of them by bus from Athens, Greek police said.

Many often arrive at the same time, overwhelming border control officials who can't process all in one day and are often forced to leave some waiting at the border overnight.

Saleh Labod, 31 from Syria, said he worked as builder in Greece for five years before returning to his village near the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.

He then paid $2 250 to a smuggler to travel back to Europe by boat from Bodrum, Turkey to the nearby Greek island of Kos.

"The outboard motor broke when we were 2km away from the shore," he said.

"The smugglers don't care about us at all ... they'll load up a boat with children regardless of the danger. We had to use our hands as oars. We made it: Luckily the weather is still good."


Read more on:    turkey  |  syria  |  greece  |  migrants

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.