A pair of migrants exasperated at being stuck on a Greek island donned flippers and tried to swim to Turkey, in the latest in a series of similar crossing attempts made in recent days. The two Moroccan men, aged 21 and 24, were rescued by a fishing boat after departing from the island of Chios on 11 May, the Greek coastguard said.
The swimmers possibly grew tired on the way as, although visible from Chios, the Turkish coastline is still about 8km away from the island's nearest point. "[The fishermen] saw them in the sea and pulled them out," a coastguard spokeswoman said.
The pair were returned to Chios where about another 8,400 migrants are currently waiting to know their fate after crossing the stretch of water in the opposite direction in recent months. Many have reportedly grown disillusioned about reaching continental Europe after the closure of the Balkan route and the signing of a controversial agreement between the EU and Turkey.
The coastguard said that on 9 and 10 May it intercepted another two small groups of migrants who tried to swim back to Turkey, including four Iraqis holding on to a rubber ring. Under the EU-Turkey deal, all migrants who have illegally reached Greece are to be returned to Turkey albeit the return is not automatic if they apply for asylum in Greece.
Moroccans usually have low chances of seeing their application accepted as compared to refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria. Deportees are taken in by Turkish authorities and placed into dedicated camps.
Greek media reported that the swimmers preferred to return to Turkey to then move freely within the country. Meanwhile, the coastguard said two migrant boats carrying a total of 60 people arrived from Turkey on 11 May.