Athens, Greece – 43 migrants, including 17 children, drowned in Greek waters after their boats sank when they were going from Turkey to Greece, according to coastguards officials from the country. Other 74 people were rescued by the Greek coastguard.

The Greek coastguard reported that two separate boats sank in the Greek Aegean islands of Farmakonisi and Kalolimnos on early Friday. Among the 43 people who drowned, there were 10 men, 17 children and 17 women. That being said, several people that were on the boat that sank in Kalymnos, are still missing. Frontex, an EU agency, is providing help with a helicopter in order to find them.

Authorities reported that 43 people migrants drowned in Greek waters on early Friday. Credit: Christian Science Monitor

On the other hand, the body of three children were found by the Turkish coastguard, when a different boat capsized off the resort of Didim, according to the Greek journal Kathimerini. It was explained that people drowned because they weren’t wearing life jackets. According to survivors, more people were on board in a closed yacht.  

According to the UN Refugee Agency, by January 19 more than 35,455 migrants had arrived in Europe by sea. In 2015, the old continent received 856,723 people who arrived in boats. It is calculated that 91 percent of migrants were previously living in the top 10 refugee-producing countries, such as Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that approximately 113 people have died in the Aegean sea when trying to migrate to Europe in 2016. A similar accident occurred in Greece on Thursday when 12 migrants drowned in Turkish waters and other 28 people were rescued by the Turkish coastguard.

“Once again, last night ruthless human smugglers at the Turkish coast crammed dozens of refugees and migrants in risky and unseaworthy vessels and led innocent people, even young children to perish,” the shipping ministry said in a statement.

January has become the deadliest month on registers, the IOM announced, especially when the weather is not optimal for traveling. Greek authorities have announced that on early Friday, Macedonia closed its border with Greece, as a consequence hundreds of migrants are trapped near the town of Idomeni under freezing conditions, waiting to reach central and Northern Europe.

Macedonian authorities have not declared about when the frontier that functions as a crossing point for migrants, is going to be reopened. By Friday, approximately 1,100 people are waiting at Idomeni. Greek officials have also explained that people who arrive in Greece, who are looking for asylum, must provide information about their destinations, which is going to be registered in their official documents.

“Increasing numbers of refugees and migrants take their chances aboard unseaworthy boats and dinghies in a desperate bid to reach Europe. The vast majority of those attempting this dangerous crossing are in need of international protection, fleeing war, violence and persecution in their country of origin. Every year these movements continue to exact a devastating toll on human life,” wrote the UN Refugee Agency in its official website.

On Thursday, President Obama said that the U.S. would provide “substantial” help to Europe in order to solve the refugee crisis, which is mainly caused by the Syrian conflict.

Source: Kathimerini Journal