In the Aegean Sea, a dangerous dance between Turks, Greeks and desperate migrants

Migrants making the dangerous crossing across the Aegean sea are finding themselves caught up in tensions between Greece and Turkey, writes Borzou Daragahi

Sunday 04 July 2021 15:32
<p>Turkish coastguards attempt to rescue a group of migrants stranded in the Aegean Sea</p>

Turkish coastguards attempt to rescue a group of migrants stranded in the Aegean Sea

The tiny boat finally appears beneath the moonlight, bobbling precariously in the ink-black sea. Its passengers had set out from the Turkish Aegean coast for the Greek Island of Lesbos, among the hundreds of thousands of migrants from all over Asia and Africa who gather in Turkey in hopes of making it to Europe.

But a short while into their journey, they ran into some kind of trouble. One passenger used a mobile phone to call an international emergency number. The passengers’ pleas for help reached the Turkish coastguard, initiating a rescue mission that in recent years has become an all-too-frequent and dangerous ritual on the choppy seas.

Sometimes the rafts full of migrants encounter engine trouble. But all too often, they are put in danger as a result of deliberate sabotage, often by smugglers attempting to use one faulty boat to draw authorities away from others. They are menaced by Greek coast guard vessels damaging boats and directing them back toward the Turkish coast.

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