ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's coast guard picked up 67 migrants found hiding in a sailboat crossing the Aegean Sea, authorities said Wednesday, at a point further west than that usually preferred by those crossing from the nearby Turkish coast.
The 60 men, five women and two children were picked up eight nautical miles (14 kilometers; nine miles) northeast of the island of Amorgos, which is in the Cyclades. The coast guard transported them to the small Aegean island of Leros, where a migrant processing center has been set up.
Greece last year was the main entry point into the European Union for hundreds of thousands of people hoping for better lives in the more prosperous central and northern European countries. In an effort to stem the flow, the EU reached an agreement with Turkey in March under which those arriving after March 20 are detained on the islands and can face being returned to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece.
The deal, combined with the closure of Balkan countries' land borders to refugees and migrants, significantly curtailed the numbers of arrivals. However, numbers have increased somewhat in recent weeks, with roughly 80-100 people arriving daily. Ninety people arrived on four eastern Aegean islands on Tuesday, government figures provided Wednesday showed. More than 10,000 people are now stuck on the islands, mainly on Chios and Lesbos, where facilities are operating beyond capacity. In all, more than 57,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece.