UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said it was “deeply saddened” by the large number of migrant deaths in the Aegean Sea, when at least 31 people died in three separate shipwrecks between December 21-24, with accurate numbers still absent.
“It is appalling that out of desperation and lack of safe routes, refugees and migrants feel compelled to entrust their lives to ruthless smugglers. More decisive action is needed to curb human smuggling and stop those who exploit human suffering and despair, ”UNHCR Greece Representative Maria-Clara Martin said in a press release late Tuesday. “It is regrettable to see such preventable tragedies repeat themselves. We should not get used to the fact that bodies are removed from the sea. ”
The first shipwreck occurred at Folegandros Islands December 21, while 13 people were rescued and the bodies of three men were recovered from the sea. One survivor told the Greek Coast Guard that the boat they were on could have carried up to 50 people without any protective gear.
In the second shipwreck, north of Antikythera Islands, 11 people were killed, 88 people were saved. In addition, on Christmas Eve, off the island of Paros, a boat capsized with at least 80 people, killing 17 migrants, including one child. Sixty-three survivors were rescued and taken to the island of Paroswhere the local authorities and the inhabitants of the island rushed to help them with blankets, food and clothing.
During these days, the Greek coastguard, with the support of the navy and aviation, as well as merchant and private ships, rescued a total of 160 people. According to the editorial office, the rescued are accommodated in the ports of Folegandros, Paros and Antikythera, and will soon be transferred to camps for the reception and identification of refugees.
“UNHCR appreciates the efforts of everyone involved in transporting survivors to safety,” Martin said. From January to the end of November this year, the agency estimates that more than 2,500 people have died or gone missing at sea while trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea and the sea route in northwest Africa.
It is known that the Greek prosecutor’s office opened criminal cases on the death of people, but it is not yet known whether criminal cases were opened regarding the carriers.
Judging by publications Guardian, Greek inflatable boat traders collaborate with Turkish smugglers transporting people from Turkey to Greece. And all this is happening with the participation of NGOs registered, including in Britain. A hell of a mix …