The Greek Coast Guard has identified a change in migration routes from Turkey to the EU. Smugglers are increasingly using the direct route from the Turkish coast to Italy, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Monday, citing a recent paper by the authorities.

In the past, this much longer route was only used in the winter months when the weather in the Aegean was bad. But now the numbers are rising: since the beginning of the year, almost 4,000 people have come directly from Turkey to Italy, compared to just over 800 in the same period last year. The Greek authorities are therefore in contact with the Italian coast guard.

The reason why the smugglers are increasingly avoiding Greek waters is the tough attitude of the border guards, who are increasingly preventing boats from crossing over to the Greek islands. Aid organizations accuse Athens of illegal pushbacks, which the government denies.

Just last week, the Greek Coast Guard prevented around 300 migrants in five large sailing boats from entering Greek waters. Officials suspect the boats were on their way to Italy. Experts assume that smugglers charge up to 10,000 euros per person for such a crossing.