At least 24 refugees drown at sea en route to Greece from Turkey
At least 24 refugees, including 10 children, have lost their lives after their boat capsized in the Aegean Sea on the way from Turkey to Greece.
According to a Greek coastguard official, the bodies of the victims were discovered off the Greek island of Samos, in the eastern Aegean Sea on Thursday.
On Wednesday, rescuers found the bodies of seven other refugees, including two children, off the Greek island of Kos.
Turkey has become a launching point for refugees trying to make it to Europe’s front states of Greece and Italy. Most of the refugees then try to reach Germany through the Balkan states.
Thousands of people are still taking dangerous boat journeys to Europe through the Mediterranean despite weather conditions and crackdown on illegal crossings.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said some 24,000 people crossed the Mediterranean in the first two weeks of January. The Turkish coastguard said some 60 refugees have died so far this year off Turkey’s coasts.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
European officials are struggling to forge a united response to the problem amid harsh measures taken by some EU members.
According to figures released by the IOM, more than one million refugees reached European shores in 2015, while over 3,700 people either died or went missing in their perilous journeys to the continent.