Greek coastguard rescues 242 refugees

Greek authorities say coastguard has rescued 242 refugees from their wooden boat, at least 8 refugees drowned near islands of Lesbos on Wednesday

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A dinghy overcrowded with refugees approaches the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast September 20, 2015.

Greek coastguard on Wednesday witnessed a new refugee crisis, they rescued 242 refugees from a wooden boat north of the island of Lesbos, but at least eight refugees, including two small boys drowned.

Authorities believe 30 people are still missing, as an extensive search continues on Thursday with support of the European border protection agency Frontex.

"These praiseworthy attempts of the coastguard to save refugees at sea is at risk of now turning into a constant operation of locating and collecting drowned refugees," Greek Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas said.

Lesbos has been the destination of thousands of refugees who have reached Greece in the last few weeks. Also, Lesbos is frequently used by refugees escaping wars, persecution and poverty in their countries and trying to reach Europe.

Almost every day refugees lose their lives at sea in the area between Turkey and Greece. Although the beginning of winter is a very dangerous time to be travelling from Turkey to Greece by boat, due to harsh weather conditions, refugees still continue to travel.

According to the International Organization for Migration’s statement, 48,000 refugees arrived last week in Greece. A woman and two children drowned on Sunday when their boat crashed into rocks near the Greek island of Lesbos.

Over 3,000 people have lost their lives since January, while some 600,000 people have reached Europe’s shores. This has been said to be the worst refugee crisis since World War II, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More than 450,000 refugees have arrived to Greece as of this year. Authorities and relief agencies say Lesbos is running out of space to bury the dead people.

TRTWorld and agencies