2 children dead, 33 rescued after migrant boat sinks off Turkey’s Ayvalık

Published 14.10.2019 11:10
emIHA Photo/em
IHA Photo

A 2-month-old baby and a child died Monday after a boat carrying 35 irregular migrants sunk off the coast of Ayvalık district in Turkey's Balıkesir province.

Turkish coast guard rescued 33 irregular migrants. The child died during the accident and a search was initiated for the infant, whose body was later found.

Upon being alerted to the emergency, Turkish coast guard dispatched one aircraft, four boats and a diving team to respond.

The irregular migrants were attempting to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

As the conflicts, poverty and violence continue in the Middle East, Asian countries and Africa, Turkey has become a popular hub for illegal migrants seeking to cross into Europe. Greek islands in close proximity of Turkey's Aegean shores are favorite destinations of migrants heading to Europe. However, journeys aboard unsafe, overcrowded boats often steered by inexperienced migrants turn out deadly.

Turkey and the European Union signed an agreement in 2016 aimed at reducing the number of illegal migrants on the dangerous Aegean Sea route. The deal stipulates that Greece is to send migrants held on its Aegean islands back to Turkey. In return, Turkey is to send Syrian migrants it hosts to various European Union countries. The deal also saw an escalated crackdown on human smugglers and increased sea patrols to prevent immigrants from attempting to cross. For a while, it helped reduce the number, but many migrants still risk the dangerous crossing.

According to official figures, about 180,000 irregular migrants have been held so far in 2019.

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