5 dead after migrant boats sink off Greece
Athens, Aug 29 (IANS) Five people lost their lives as two boats carrying migrants capsized in Greek territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, authorities said.
A woman died, while her child and another 35 passengers of a boat that sank off Samos island were rescued, Xinhua news agency quoted the Hellenic Coast Guard as saying late Monday.
In a similar incident that occurred off Lesvos island, four people died when a boat carrying migrants sank.
Eighteen people were rescued.
The victims near Lesvos were an 11-month-old baby, an 8-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl, Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said.
Expressing his condolences for the loss of lives, Varvitsiotis condemned “the smuggling networks and their associates in Turkey and Greece that continue to put in danger the lives of innocent people, including minors, for profit”.
Greek authorities report increased arrivals of undocumented migrants and refugees this year compared to 2022 via the Aegean Sea or the land border with Turkey.
“On average we record 150-200 arrivals per day lately in the Aegean Sea,” Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis told Greek national broadcaster ERT on Monday.
A total of 1,172 refugees and migrants were rescued at sea in 63 incidents between August 1 and 20, the Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy Ministry said.
Between January 1 and August 20 this year, the country registered 15,652 irregular arrivals, including 11,954 by sea, while in the entire last year, the total figure was 18,780, the UN Refugee Agency said.
Greece has been at the forefront of the refugee and migrant influx into Europe since 2015, and hundreds have perished in the Aegean Sea in the past eight years.