Greece: at least twenty-seven migrants died in two successive shipwrecks

Sixteen people perished on Friday, December 25, in the sinking of a boat with migrants on board in the Aegean Sea, a few hours after a first sinking which left eleven dead, according to the Greek coast guard. The sixteen bodies were recovered and 63 people were rescued after this shipwreck off the island of Paros.

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A few hours earlier, eleven bodies had been recovered after the sinking of another boat carrying a hundred migrants, which had run aground, Thursday, December 24, on an islet in the south of the country. Some 90 survivors, including 52 men, 11 women and 27 children, were able to be rescued and evacuated on Friday morning from this islet located north of the Greek island of Antikythera, said a Greek coast guard official. « Search and rescue operations continue as long as it is not clear how many people were in the boat before it sank », he added.

2,500 deaths between January and November

Thursday’s sinking had already occurred the day after the capsizing of an inflatable boat carrying migrants off the island of Folegandros, also in southern Greece, which left at least three dead. Thirteen people – mainly Iraqis, but also Syrians and Egyptians – were rescued, but dozens more are still missing, according to the Greek authorities.

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the shipwreck off Folegandros was the worst in the Aegean this year. « He painfully reminds us that people continue to embark on perilous journeys in search of safety », reacted Adriano Silvestri, the deputy representative of the UNHCR in Greece.

UNHCR estimates that more than 2,500 people died or disappeared at sea trying to reach Europe between January and November. Almost a million people, mostly Syrian refugees, arrived in the EU in 2015 after traveling through Turkey to the Greek islands.

The World with AFP

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