The deal rerouting migrant boats from Libya to Greece

File photo.

Last September, just 30 asylum seekers made the 190-nautical-mile journey from Tobruk in Libya to the Greek island of Gavdos and Crete's southern coast just above it; that number swelled to 397 in December and has passed 1,100 in the first couple of months of 2024. The spike in migrant arrivals from the war-torn North African country is posing a fresh challenge for the Greek authorities.

One explanation for the phenomenon is that migrant smugglers are trying out new routes after patrols on the Greek-Turkish sea border were strengthened at the start of the year following an agreement between Athens and Ankara. The numbers, however, do not support this argument, as official figures show that the eastern Aegean islands have received some 8,000 asylum seekers since the start of the year, as opposed to some 3,000 in the same period of 2023, representing an increase of 166% and...

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