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16 dead after migrant boat sinks off Greek island

Sunday, 18 March, 2018 - 18:15

Children are amongst those killed after a small migrant boat capsized on Saturday in waters near Greece’s Agathonisi island.

22 people are believed to have been on the boat. A search for survivors, conducted by the Greek navy, coast guard, and a vessel from the European border agency, Frontex, is underway. The authorities were alerted to the capsize of the vessel after three survivors managed to swim to the island and raise the alarm.

The Greek coast guard have said that the recovered bodies have not been identified yet, but that six children are amongst those dead. The Greek migration minister, Dimitris Vitsas, said in a press statement,“We can’t tolerate (losing) children in the Aegean Sea … the solution is to protect people, to implement safe procedures and safe routes for migrants and refugees, to hit the human trafficking circuits.”

Sunday marks the second anniversary of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, which involved an agreement on “illegal” migrants crossing from Turkey into Greece. As part of the deal, Turkey agreed to accept refugees turned away from Greece. The deal helped stem the flow of migrants crossing through Turkey into the EU, but significant numbers of migrants still make the perilous journey every month.

The incident is a reminder that, despite diminished coverage of the issue, the European migrant crisis is still ongoing. In 2015 alone, 806 people drowned in the Aegean crossing into Greece on often overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels. The death toll has dropped dramatically since the EU-Turkey deal, but the UN Refugee Agency says that this year so far over 4,000 people have arrived in Greece by sea.

To mark the anniversary of the deal, thousands of protesters marched through Athens on Sunday, decrying the EU’s closed borders.

In a separate incident on Saturday, two migrants were killed and seven more injured when a driver lost control of his vehicle during a car chase with police.


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