FILE PHOTO: An example of one of the types of boats often used by migrants in dangerous crossings FILE PHOTO: An example of one of the types of boats often used by migrants in dangerous crossings  (AFP or licensors)

Cyprus coastguard arrests 17 year-old migrant boat captain

Another group of migrants arrives in Cyprus, as calm seas prompt more people to make dangerous Mediterranean crossings.

By Nathan Morley

Taking advantage of calm seas across the Mediterranean, another group of migrants have arrived on Cyprus.

According to local police, 23 migrants were spotted off Cape Greco at the south-eastern tip of Cyprus on Friday.

Remarkably, it was further divulged that a 17-year-old teenager was captaining the vessel which had 23 people on board, including women and children.

The teenager has been arrested and will appear in court next week.

Just two days earlier, a similar vessel, carrying 23 people, was spotted in the same location and escorted to another port in Cyprus.

The passengers had all boarded in Syria, and paid thousands of dollars for a place on the boat.

Last week, the Cypriot coast guard also intercepted and detained a boat carrying 49 off the coast of Paphos, on the western edge of the island.

Their boat reportedly had left Lebanon on Monday, destined for Italy.

Cyprus has struggled to absorb the huge numbers of migrants arriving, as it sits on the front-line of the EU’s people trafficking route through the Mediterranean.

With the unrelenting pace of arrivals, asylum-seekers, according to the government in Nicosia, now make up five percent of the island’s population.

The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR says that so far this year, 72,778 refugees have arrived in Europe from the south, including 71,136 arrivals by sea.

In recent years, the problem of rickety, un-seaworthy boats packed with migrants has become a serious concern for governments throughout the region.

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16 July 2023, 11:25