Eight children among 23 migrants who drowned in Greek and Turkish waters

In two separate incidents, 23 migrants, including eight children, drowned when their boats sank off the coasts of Turkey and Greece on 11 January. 

The first incident involved a boat carrying around 50 migrants who were attempting to reach Italy. The boat began to take in water near the Greek island of Paxos. Someone on board sent out a distress signal, but when the coastguard arrived 12 of the passengers had already drowned. 

Two helicopters, six coastguard boats and four passing cargo ships were involved in the rescue operation. Over 20 survivors were found, three of whom were airlifted to receive emergency medical treatment, according to a statement from the Greek coastguard. 

Hours later, another tragedy occurred. At least 11 irregular migrants, including eight children, drowned off the coast of Cesme in the province of Izmir, Turkey. They were trying to reach Greece when their boat sank.

There were 19 migrants on the boat, according to a source from the Turkish coastguard. Eight managed to swim to shore or were rescued.

The nationalities of the deceased have not yet been confirmed. According to a confidential EU report, most of the migrants that make the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece are from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

“We verified that there were Iraqi Kurds on these two boats, but it is not yet clear whether they died or were rescued,” Ari jalal, the head of Lutka Foundation told Rudaw Media Network.

The Lutka Foundation made an appeal to migrants’ families on their Facebook page. They asked them to share information and images of their migrant relatives to help the authorities confirm whether or not any Kurds were among the deceased. 

In the first half of January, 63 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration.

TMP – 16/01/2020

Photo credit: Georgios Kritsotakis / Shutterstock

Photo caption: LESVOS, GREECE- October 23 2017-Lifejackets left by refugees on the shore of Mytilini.