Why migrant smugglers are using ‘ghost ships’

With thousands of dollars to be made from every person desperate to escape war-torn and poverty-hit areas in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, smugglers are constantly changing tactics.

Easy access to cheap vessels also appears to be a factor, with industry sources claiming that aged freighters can even be picked up on Ebay…

…Why would people smugglers do this?

Simply put, because they can. David Olsen, financial editor of maritime newspaper Lloyds List, said “bargain basement” ships can be had for about less than one million dollars (€700,000), less than the price of a London apartment.

“I can see people meeting over a beer and agreeing a price that is more than the scrap to take it off their hands,” Olsen says.

“Ships that are 40 to 50 years old… it’s not even worth getting them to India for scrap,” he said.

Both the cargo ships involved in this week’s incidents are over 40 years old…

…Why is Greece in the firing line?

The western port of Patras, which handles the bulk of Greece’s maritime traffic with Italy, has been used for years by migrants hoping to sneak on board ferries to Bari and Brindisi.

Rome also has a bone to pick with Athens after the Greek coastguard neglected to board the Blue Sky M and allowed it to continue towards the Italian coast.

Greece’s Aegean islands close to the coast of Turkey – where many of the smuggling rings are based – are also a routine landing point for traffickers.

The creation of a 10.3-kilometre (6.4-mile) barbed-wire barrier on the Greek-Turkish border in 2012 also dissuaded smugglers from using the land route into Europe.


Europe is responsible for not stopping the boats (as Australia did). Any accidents or deaths are partially their fault.

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  • Greece will be kicked out of the EU.

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