A refugee boat has sunk in the Aegean Sea off Turkey’s western coast, killing at least 20 people.
The wooden boat reportedly took off from the Dikili district of the western province of Izmir in order to reach the Greek island of Lesbos and capsized off an area called Bademli in the Aegean.
Turkish Coast Guard undertook a rescue operation following the incident, saving the lives of 21 refugees, though at least two refugees who were on the boat have not been found yet according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
Media reports have stated based on information from rescued refugees that there were also people in the boat's interior, underwater divers are searching for them.
Turkey is a transit point for refugees aiming to reach European countries from Syria and Iraq because of its geography bridging the Middle East and Europe.
Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts the most Syrian refugees in the world according to the registration records of the United Nations.
Turkey has spent more than $8 billion of its own resources on the refugees it hosts, there are currently 2.2 million refugees in Turkey.