Report: Refugees drown as boat sinks off Turkey

Turkish media reports that 18 died and 14 were rescued after boat capsized in the Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece.

Afghan migrants disembark safely from their frail boat in bad weather on the Greek island
Since January, at least 907,712 refugees and migrants made the journey to Europe [File: Santi Palacios/AP]

At least 18 people have drowned after a refugee boat capsized off the Turkish coast near Bodrum, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported.

The wooden boat carrying refugees, including Syrians and Iraqis, sank on Friday night as it travelled from Turkey’s coastal resort of Bodrum to Greece’s Kos Island.

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According to the Bodrum Sea Rescue Society, coast guards retrieved the bodies, including those of children, who drowned.

The incident was the third attempted sea crossing to end in the deaths of refugees in the Aegean this week.

Less than 24 hours earlier, on Friday morning, eight Iraqi refugees, including five children, drowned after a boat sank off near Bodrum, Anadolu reported.

And on Wednesday, at least Syrian four refugees, including three babies, drowned as their boat sank off Bodrum.

The bodies of the dead refugees were taken to the Greek island of Leros and then to Rhodes for medical examination, according to the Anadolu report.

Kos and other Greek Islands are a few kilometres from the Turkish coast.

European border action

The European Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that it will adopt a set of measures to protect the EU’s external borders and manage migration more effectively.

The Commission proposed to establish a European border and coast guard to “ensure a strong and shared management of external borders to further increase security for European citizens”, the statement said.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says at least 45,255 refugees and migrants have arrived in the Greek islands from Turkey since the beginning of December.

Since January, at least 907,712 refugees and migrants made the journey to Europe, including 878,495 who have arrived by sea, the IOM said in a report earlier this month.

At least 3,563 people have gone missing or drowned trying to reach Europe, the IOM said in a report released in early December.

The UNHCR put the number of arrivals by sea at 956,683 and 3,625 reported missing or dead.

Source: Al Jazeera