Migrants on the island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey, March 6, 2020. - Losmi Chobi / SIPA

Thirty-six migrants from Turkey were spotted off Lesbos and transferred overnight from Saturday to Sunday to a temporary settlement in the north of the island, the Greek coast guard said.

Among this group, "one person had to be hospitalized," told AFP Sunday an official of the press office of the coast guard, without giving more details.

Coming from Iran and Afghanistan

The rest of the group were safely transferred to a migrant facility and quarantined for seven days under current measures to combat Covid-19, the source said.

According to the Greek News Agency (Ana), the migrant group is made up of ten women, ten children and sixteen men, all from Iran and Afghanistan. The migrants' boat was spotted on Saturday morning, and the rescue and transfer operation took place on Saturday midnight, according to the coast guard.

A boat in distress "for 14 hours"

Migrant advocacy NGOs, Aegean Boat Report and Watch the Med, denounced on social media that the Greek and Turkish coast guards left the boat in distress offshore "for 14 hours" on Saturday, returning responsibility, as they usually do in this migratory passage. Finally, since the boat was in Greek waters, the Greek coast guards had to rescue the migrants on Saturday evening.

This narrow maritime area between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea is a frequent passage of migrants who try to reach Europe by fleeing war and poverty. After numerous reports from NGOs and the media published in recent months accusing Greece of driving back migrants to Turkey, the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU) have called on Athens on Friday to "urgently open an investigation" into the matter and "take the necessary measures".

The third boat in Lesbos since June

It is the third boat to arrive in Lesbos since the beginning of June: a total of 108 migrants have been rescued off the island in the last two weeks, according to Ana, which shows a recovery in the number of migrants after a significant drop in previous months due to restrictions on the Covid-19.


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