More children die as refugee boat sinks off Turkey

Officials recover bodies of nine refugees, including two children, as attempted crossings to Greece surge dramatically.

    More than 360 people died in the waters off Greece, Turkey and Italy in January alone [AP]
    More than 360 people died in the waters off Greece, Turkey and Italy in January alone [AP]

    At least nine refugees - two of them children - have drowned after a boat sank off the Turkish coast and the International Organisation for Migration warned of a dangerous surge in the number of drownings and attempted crossings into Greece.

    Turkey's Dogan news agency reported that the latest sinking occurred near the Aegean coastal town of Seferihisar, which is near the Greek island of Samos.

    The Turkish coastguard managed to rescue two refugees, while another 11 people managed to reach the shore, the report said.

    EU threatens Greece over flow of refugees

    Tuesday's deaths came after 37 refugees drowned off another part of the Turkish coast on Saturday - in harrowing scenes reminiscent of the death of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose body was found lying face down on a Turkish beach in September.

    The deaths also came as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday said that the number of refugees arriving in Greece topped 62,000 in January.

    The IOM said that more than 360 people died in the waters off Greece, Turkey and Italy while attempting the journey during the month.

    "[It] is many, many times what we saw a year ago in the previous January," IOM spokesman Joel Millman said.

    More than 10,000 refugee children missing in Europe

    Turkey reached an agreement with the European Union in November to stem the flow of refugees bound for Europe in return for 3 billion euros ($3.2bn) in financial assistance, but the agreement has failed to check the tide of arrivals.

    Turkey, which is hosting at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria's civil war, has become the main launchpad for people fleeing war, persecution and poverty to Europe.

    Neither the deal with the EU, nor the harsh winter conditions have appeared to deter refugees trying to reach Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing.

    The Turkish government said on Monday that it was working on new legal measures to strengthen penalties for human smuggling by making it an "act of terror and organised crime".

    Dutch plan seeks to ferry refugees back to Turkey


    SOURCE: Agencies


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