Turkey’s Coast Guard has said a refugee boat sunk off the western coast of the country, close to the Ayvalik district in the Aegean province of Canakkale, killing 14 people, including 7 children.
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported that the Coast Guard has also rescued 27 people who were on the same boat in the Aegean Sea on Wednesday.
The boat left Turkey’s Ayvalik beach and it was aiming to reach the Greek island of Lesbos carrying out foreign nationals through illegal methods.
Canakkale Governor Hamza Erkal said that, “Though the boat was damaged and taken on water, they continued their travelling. When their boat took on more water, they wanted to go back [Turkish coast], but it sunk before reaching to the [Turkish] coast,” according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey is a transit point for refugees aiming to reach European countries from Syria due to 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 United Nations registration records.
Turkey has spent more than $8 billion of its own resources on the refugees, whose number in the country has exceeded 2.2 million people.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously declared that European leadership needs to get its act together to resolve growing refugee crisis in the heart of the continent and help diminish Turkey’s enormous refugee burden.
Merkel stated on Nov. 4 that, “we need to allocate Turkey’s burden of more than two million refugees between Turkey and Europe.”
“Particularly, we need a strong partnership with Turkey in order to prevent asylum-seekers falling into an illegal status,” she added.
She previously declared that Europe’s effort to filter and process refugees would not work without Turkey’s cooperation.
In addition, Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece, which are the three neighbouring Balkan states facing the imminent flows of refugees, have reportedly set to work on solutions to deal with worsening refugee crisis as part of a project being prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).