Small Greek island ‘Gavdos’ face challenges with new illegal migration route

Gavdos, despite being a small Greek island, is incredibly tiny, inhabited by fewer than 70 individuals, with just two families and four children. According to the mayor, Lilian Stefanaki, most of the residents are elderly people living alone.

Despite its small size, the island has essential amenities such as a single school, a bakery, two mini-markets, and four kafeneia cum tavernas, serving the micro-world even in the depths of winter. Efsevios Daskalakis serves as the island’s sole police officer for much of the year, overseeing the remote island, which is separated from Crete by the unpredictable waters of the Libyan Sea.

Recently, life on Gavdos has seen some unusual activity. Stefanaki notes an influx of 150 people from Libya arriving in overcrowded boats, placing strain on the island’s limited infrastructure, which lacks adequate housing facilities. Situated at Europe’s southernmost tip and closer to Africa than Athens, the 29-square-kilometer island has become a new target for smugglers seeking to transport people westward.

According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), out of the 9,502 individuals seeking refuge in Greece since January, approximately 1,186 Egyptians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis have arrived near Crete and Gavdos. This surge in arrivals, compared to zero during the same period last year, has raised concerns about the emergence of a new smuggling route in the Mediterranean.

Daskalakis describes the challenging conditions faced by these arrivals, mostly exhausted young men undertaking the perilous 180km journey from Tobruk, Libya. While relief came with the EU’s recent deal with Egypt to stem migration flows, uncertainty remains about the agreement’s long-term effectiveness.

Greece, alongside Italy, advocated strongly for the pact despite potential criticism from human rights groups. The country has witnessed a 187% increase in arrivals since January, prompting calls for coordinated efforts from central authorities and the EU to manage the situation effectively.

Greece’s migration minister, Dimitris Kairidis, plans to visit Gavdos to prevent it from becoming a hub for irregular migration. He emphasizes the shift in approach, with migrant boats now seeing Greece as a destination rather than a default stop. Kairidis underscores the importance of cooperation with Egypt to address the root causes of irregular migration and prevent further tragedies.

In light of the emergence of this new migration route, Kairidis stresses the need for proper and timely management, highlighting the importance of the EU-Egypt agreement and support for Egypt’s economy to avert another migration crisis in Europe.

Latest articles

US: 40% of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution

According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, nearly 40% of people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of air...

Profits dip, Tesla comes up with new models

Tesla's profits have significantly declined this year, prompting the company to accelerate the release of new models and cut thousands of jobs in an...

Greece: Athens covered with orange Sahara dust haze

An intense orange haze has enveloped Athens, creating a surreal landscape as vast clouds of Sahara Desert dust have drifted over the city. This...

Argentina: People protest against cuts to public universities

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on Tuesday, to protest and for voicing their opposition...

Related articles