The migrant crisis has claimed more lives, lost at sea. On Friday, two separate boats, making separate journeys to Greece, sank off the coast.
So far, 42 people drowned in the Aegean Sea, 17 of them children. Search and rescue crews fear more are still trapped in the wreckage and are working to locate any survivors, The Associated Press reported. Seventy have been rescued so far.
It’s not clear how many migrants were aboard the two crafts, but estimates range from 50 to 70. They likely came from Turkey, where 2.2 million Syrian refugees feeling the civil war are languishing, waiting to make the journey to Europe, Agence France-Press reported.
The population also includes residents of the entire Middle East and elsewhere, who are escaping war and misery and arriving in flimsy boats by the thousands daily in spite of the danger. Thousands make it to Greece every day, but thousands of others die during the trip after paying smugglers thousands.
It’s believed the craft that sank were smuggling vessels. The first of the boats sank in the eastern Aegean Sea in the early hours of Friday morning; it was carrying 49 people and capsized off the coast of an islet called Farmakonissi. Of their number, 40 were able to make it to shore. Eight bodies were pulled from the waters, including six kids and two women. A girl was rescued from the sea, as well.
Just hours later, a second wooden vessel, carrying an unknown number of migrants sank off the isle of Kalolimnos, which is located south of Farmakonissi. Greece’s coast guard rescued 26 men and four women, but pulled 34 drowned bodies from the water. Of those victims, 16 were women, seven men, and 11 kids.
Now, boats, a helicopter, and private vessels are on the lookout for any survivors.
In a separate incident, the Turkish coast guard recovered the bodies of three children after a third boat sank, this one near a seaside resort called Didim.
Excluding the estimates from Friday’s incidents, 28 people have died in Greece’s territorial waters. Last year, 246 bodies were found and 149 others were reported missing. In both Greece and Turkey’s territorial waters, 700 in total have died or disappeared making the dangerous crossing to safe haven.
According to The Wall Street Journal, 35,000 refugees have made it to Greece on vessels provided by smuggling gangs just in January. Last year, this flimsy boat carried 850,000 to the country.
Meanwhile, leaders in the European Union are continuing to discuss the ongoing migrant crisis, on a continent growing increasingly impatient and inhospitable as more and more refugees cross the borders.
A million refugees sought asylum in European nations in 2015. The EU is divided on how to cope with the situation;some countries are blocking or limiting new arrivals, as Germany has welcomed them.
On Friday as two more migrant boats sank, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, warned that putting up walls between countries in response to the crisis poses a huge economic risk as Hungary’s Prime Minister (who has had a fence separated his country from its neighbors) praised Austria’s cap on refugees.
“Europe can’t take in huge masses of foreign people in an unlimited, uncontrolled manner,” said, Viktor Orban. For Hungary, “the best migrant is the migrant who does not come.”
But as far as the United Nations is concerned, the migrant and the native European are going to have to find a way to make it work, said the UN’s special representative for migration Peter Sutherland.
“We must find ways to be living together. Today [migration] is an unavoidable reality, we are living in the era of globalization. It is impossible to stop. Those who believe in some way that we can erect fences and stop migration are living in cloud cuckoo land.”
[Photo By Giorgos Drosos / AP]