Saturday 10 December 2016

Dark secret behind the paradise beach

Smuggling is thriving amid desperate hunt for a better future, writes Roger Boyes in Lesbos

Published 13/02/2010 | 05:00

The Greek island fo Lesbos has become a landing point for migrants desperate to enter the EU.
The Greek island fo Lesbos has become a landing point for migrants desperate to enter the EU.

AZIZ did not pause to admire the view. Nobody does on Skala Sykaminias beach, even though the view across the strait to Turkey is spectacular: on a typical pellucid day you can see the sunlight bounce off the minarets.

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This stretch of rocky Greek sand is the new bridgehead into the European Union for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants every year. Many of them, like Aziz, are children from Afghanistan. They arrive wet and shoeless, having been passed from smuggler to smuggler, and they already know that it does not do to dawdle on Lesbos.

The beach is scattered with the flotsam and jetsam of a million-euro criminal enterprise: punctured dinghies weighed down with stones, abandoned life vests, nappies and baby-care products discarded in the rush to move deeper into the island and the EU before they can be caught and expelled.

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