3 children and 1 woman drowned while migrating across the Aegean Sea

ATHENS – Three children and a woman drowned in the Aegean Sea on Tuesday after the bottom fell from an overcrowded rubber dinghy carryin...

ATHENS – Three children and a woman drowned in the Aegean Sea on Tuesday after the bottom fell from an overcrowded rubber dinghy carrying migrants from neighboring Turkey, dropping passengers into the water, Greek officials said.

The bodies of three girls and a young woman were found off the Greek island of Chios, while 22 others were rescued, the Greek coast guard said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, adding that ‘one person was still missing. None had life jackets, authorities said.

Greece is a key route for migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach Europe. But arrivals have dropped sharply in recent years, as have deaths at sea. Tuesday’s incident was unusual in that the boat collapsed due to overcrowding, rather than capsizing as is most. often the case.

The Greek coastguard began a search and rescue operation on Tuesday morning. Coast Guard ships, a NATO warship, private boats in the area, and helicopters roamed the area.

“The boat in question had left the Turkish coast overloaded with an excessive number of passengers,” said the statement from the coast guard. This, combined with adverse weather conditions, caused the base of the ship to collapse.

A video posted online by the Greek Coast Guard showed an empty blue dinghy floating in rough seas, as well as footage of survivors wrapped in foil blankets aboard a Greek Coast Guard vessel.

Earlier today there had been confusion over the ages of the victims. Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi wrote on Twitter that four children were found dead. The coast guard later clarified that one of the victims was a woman.

Mitarachi also accused neighboring Turkey of failing to honor the deal it struck with the European Union at the height of the bloc’s migration crisis in 2016 to prevent smugglers from crossing the Aegean Sea.

“These trips should never take place,” Mitarachi wrote and urged the Turkish authorities to do more to crack down “unscrupulous smugglers put lives at risk in heavily loaded non-navigable canoes. “

Although Greece has been the main gateway for around one million migrants who flocked to Europe in 2015 and 2016, arrivals have slowed sharply over the past two years as border police have shifted intensified, in part because of the pandemic. Arrivals from Turkey are down 90% from 2019, Mitarachi said, attributing the change to tighter migration policies by the Conservative government – which include the abandonment of certain migrants at sea and have drawn strong criticism from aid groups working with migrants.

The number of migrant deaths at sea has also declined. This year, 19 people have died in the eastern Mediterranean (not counting the toll of Tuesday’s incident as research continued), up from 94 in 2020, according to the International Organization for Migration. About 10 of the deaths occurred on crossings to Greece from Turkey, up from around 50 last year, according to the organization. Missing Migrants Project, which documents the deaths and disappearances at sea.

Despite the drop in the death toll, Tuesday’s crash, however, highlighted the dangers faced by migrants who continue to risk the short but precarious sea crossing from Turkey to Greece and prompted calls for action from NGO. “This tragedy in the Aegean Sea further reinforces the need to protect lives and increase access to safe and regular migration channels,” the Greek section of the migrant organization said in a statement.

“People face an impossible choice when they undertake these dangerous journeys, which no one should face,” said Louise Donovan, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece. “But people will continue to risk their lives if they cannot access safe and regulated alternatives that we continue to advocate for.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: 3 children and 1 woman drowned while migrating across the Aegean Sea
3 children and 1 woman drowned while migrating across the Aegean Sea
Newsrust - US Top News
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