Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Migrants Die As Boat Capsizes Off Greece

Migrants Die As Boat Capsizes Off Greece

Greece's coast guard said today the bodies of 14 people have been recovered from the sea off a Greek island in the eastern Aegean following the sinking of a suspected migrant smuggling boat.

Three other migrants were rescued by Greece's Agathonisi island near the Turkish coast.

The six bodies initially recovered included four children, one man and a woman, while the bodies of a further eight people were recovered southeast of Agathonisi later Saturday morning.

Dimitris Vitsas, Greece's migration minister, said: "We can't tolerate losing children in the Aegean Sea".

The solution, he said, is to ensure "safe routes and procedures for refugees and migrants, and to fight against trafficking". Hundreds died trying to make it across.

The United Nations' Refugee Agency says Saturday that this is the first shipwreck in the Aegean in 2018, but adds that some 500 refugees and migrants have lost their lives or gone missing in the Aegean over the past two years.

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The number dwindled to 204,700 from 1.8 million in 2015, it said.

Greek coastguard officers were searching for survivors this afternoon after one of the deadliest incidents in months for migrants trying to complete the risky journey.

It has been criticised by humanitarian workers as it stipulates that all arrivals will be sent back to Turkey, including Syrian refugees.

Greece is also detaining thousands of migrants in overcrowded squalid camps.

In addition to providing billions in funds in return, the European Union agreed other concessions to Turkey such as to accelerate plans to bring in visa-free travel for its nationals and boost negotiations for its membership of the bloc.

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