Migrants are arriving in Europe in record numbers – the protection framework of Mediterranean countries and the population’s patience is wearing thin
One European country after another is releasing its data on illegal immigration this year. In Italy, the number of migrants arriving by sea broke all previous records. Since the beginning of the year, more than 113 thousand people have arrived on Italian shores, which is already more than last year for the entire year. Greece also reports massive migratory pressures, and in Cyprus social tensions are worsening: riots have been reported in Limassol, for the second time in two weeks.
Illegal immigrants arrive on the Greek island of Lesvos. Most migrants make their way to Europe from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with the effective help of human smuggling networks.
The dangerous journey is almost always done in light wooden or inflatable boats. To date, there has been no precedent for migrants traveling in luxurious conditions. But two days ago, 51 migrants were taken on a yacht by human traffickers from Turkey to the island of Mykonos.
The Greek coast guard detained and interrogated the ship’s passengers, who said they had arrived on a yacht flying the flag of the US state of Delaware.
The Greek authorities found the ship in another port and immediately confiscated it. Three men, whom the migrants identified as human traffickers, were also arrested.
The budgets of the countries concerned are becoming more and more difficult to withstand the continuous flood of immigrants that has been going on for the eighth year, the patience of the population is running out, and the protests against illegal immigrants have grown.
A movement in Limassol, Cyprus, on Friday turned serious, and anti-immigrant groups rioted for the second time in two weeks. More than three hundred masked demonstrators ransacked shops, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks, and set trash cans and cars on fire. Shops run by migrants, mostly Syrians, were attacked and set on fire. Police fired tear gas and arrested 13 people. Five people were injured in the scuffle.
“As the president of the country, I am ashamed of what I saw last night, and I hope the officials are ashamed too. This has nothing to do with the issue of immigration. Immigration is not the problem at all. In this way, we cannot protect our citizens and tourists coming to the countryCypriot President Nicos Haristolidis said.
Similar riots took place last weekend in the settlement of Hloraka, where tensions are particularly high between the local population and the immigrants who live there. However, the social tension is no longer felt only in Cyprus, although the situation is perhaps the most dangerous in the island country.
Illegal immigrants now make up six percent of the Cypriot population.
Italy has been exposed to immigration pressures that it has not seen for years, especially as a result of the events in the African Sahel region and successive military coups, which led to a significant increase in the number of illegal immigrants arriving in the country. The Romanian government is finding it increasingly difficult to fund their care.
Greece also fears that disaffected and often frustrated migrants will cause serious harm. Regarding the devastating forest fires, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated this week that most of the fires were caused by arson. He added that the fires in Evros almost certainly started along routes used by illegal immigrants.
Featured Image: Italian coast guard vessels rescue illegal migrants trying to reach Europe from a barge in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the island of Lampedusa, Italy, on January 24, 2022. The Italian authorities’ vessels took 280 migrants on board. (Photo: MTI/AP/Pau de la Calle)