Fourteen asylum seekers, including seven children, are dead after their boat sank while trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday.
The Turkish coastguard recovered 14 bodies from the wreckage of a wooden boat journeying from the western province of Canakkale to the Greek island of Lesbos. The boat collided with rocks and took on water.
Seven children were among the dead and a pregnant woman was one of 27 rescued. Information on their nationalities is yet to be released, and helicopter search operations are continuing for those unaccounted for.
The coastguard explained that four more refugees perished when a vessel crossing the mere 8km between Turkey and Greece sank off the coast of southern Turkey.
“Must there be another Aylan for the world to wake up? Humanity is watching from the sidelines,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated after hearing of the latest fatal incident, referring to the shocking images of young Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose body was washed ashore on a Turkish beach in September. He has urged European leaders to respond to the crisis with intensity.
It has been reported by the UNHCR that since the beginning of 2015, more than 650,000 migrants have used the Mediterranean route, with 512 of those dying in the process. Nearly an additional 150,000 have arrived in Europe, and about 3000 more have perished or are missing from embarking on the journey.
With an escalating number of asylum seekers fleeing war and hardship from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, European Union and African leaders met in the Maltese capital Valletta on Wednesday in the hope to formulate measures on how to curb the flow of refugees into Europe.
“We moved forward with temporary border controls in order to obtain security and stability… not to limit the number of asylum seekers, but to get better control of the flow of asylum seekers to Sweden,” said Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman on Wednesday evening.
His announcement added that Sweden will impose temporary border controls from midday on Thursday (local time) for ten days until November 21, to offer some time to prepare for thousands of new arrivals.
More than two million people are currently waiting in Turkey with the hope of journeying to the more promising European Union soon. – Matina Moutzouris
Top photo of Turkish coastguard officers recovering the bodies of asylum seekers from Video-News’ YouTube channel.