There has been a large increase in the number of migrants and refugees reaching the Aegean island of Chios in the last 48 hours, following a three-month period of no migrant arrivals on the island.
A total of five incidents involving a corresponding number of dinghies was reported in just a few hours, bringing a total of 212 persons between Tuesday afternoon and 10 a.m. (0800GMT) on Wednesday. The new arrivals were transferred to the VIAL hotspot.
There were a total of 284 arrivals of migrants and refugees recorded on Chios between Jan 1 and March 31, including Turkish nationals fleeing the current regime.
The numbers arriving between Sunday and Tuesday on the island of Lesvos reached 169, while 142 arrived on Samos. A total of 532 migrants and refugees reached the northern Aegean islands in the last four days.
The sharp increase in the migrant flow to Greece is a reaction by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reports of certain European Union member-states refusing to foot the bill of the EU-Turkey migration deal, according to a Greek government source cited by Kathimerini.
Attempt to ram Greek vessel denied
Meanwhile, senior coast guard officers told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency that there was no attempt by a Turkish patrol boat to ram a Greek coast guard vessel during an operation on Wednesday to rescue migrants off the coast of Chios.
Outlining the sequence of events, they said that Coast Guard ship 611 had come across a dinghy carrying about 40 migrants and refugees near the sea border with Turkey and within Turkish territorial waters, while a Turkish patrol boat was sailing alongside.
The dinghy had then picked up speed and crossed over onto the Greek side of the border, while some of the people on board fell into the water.
The Greek coast guard vessel immediately mounted a rescue operation to collect the migrants in the water and the Turkish vessel also crossed over into Greek territorial waters for a short space of time. As soon as the Greek coast guard had collected the migrants in the water, the Turkish coast guard vessel departed for the Turkish coast and the incident came to an end, they said.