Wealthy migrants pay out 8,000 euros for arriving in Europe

Thu, 14.09.2017 13:35

Only the wealthiest migrants and refugees could afford to pay for a voyage on the beautiful 10-metre yacht that sailed under a Ukrainian flag.

Today that sailboat is under police guard along with a dozen other luxury vessels impounded at the Sicilian port of Augusta. Its former skipper, Andrej, has recently been released from prison after serving a one-year sentence for aiding illegal immigration.

Andrej, 35, a Ukrainian, was convicted for transporting 30 migrants from Turkey to Sicily, landing on a small beach in the province of Syracuse. Each passenger paid more than 8,000 euros for the crossing.

Compared with the inflatable vessels and rickety fishing boats used to take migrants and refugees from North Africa across the Mediterranean, the mode of transport that Andrej offered — and others continue to offer — was exclusive and first class.

“I saw Syrian doctors, Afghan lawyers and magistrates, Iraqi professors and entrepreneurs [disembarking] from these boats,” said Carlo Parini, the police chief inspector for illegal immigration in the south-eastern port of Syracuse, who led the operations in which the boats were recovered from Turkey and impounded.

Some families are known to have paid nearly 100,000 euros to reach Europe from the Middle East. According to witnesses, some of those who arrived by yacht were dressed elegantly, carrying suitcases and expensive bags. After completing registration procedures on arrival, some went out for dinner at upmarket restaurants nearby.

Many of those who have arrived in Sicily by yacht from Turkey are fleeing brutal regimes and conflict, but they are able to pay for a level of safety — even comfort — that thousands of others cannot.

More than 120,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, most having departed from Libya bound for Italy, from Turkey bound for Greece or, more recently, from Morocco bound for Spain, usually in shoddy, overcrowded vessels. The Italian route has proven to be the world’s most lethal.

Police figures suggest 883 migrants landed in Sicily by yacht between January and August this year. There were 682 similar arrivals in 2016.

Parini said these figures were estimates. “In reality, there are many more,” he said. “Some of these yachts head to other parts of Italy, such as Leuca, a town in the extreme southern tip of Apulia, close to Sicily. Some manage to disembark the migrants and go back. We cannot monitor every single sailing boat in the Mediterranean. It would be impossible.”

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Source: GulfNews

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