A 6-year-old child has drowned after a boat smuggling migrants capsized off the Greek island of Samos, German news agency (dpa) reported on Monday.
Two coast guard vessels rescued another 17 people from the boat, while seven others managed to reach shore on their own. The accident happened on Sunday after the migrants had set off from Turkey.
According to data by the United Nations migration agency (UNHCR), 9,247 people reached Greek islands in the eastern Aegean between the start of 2020 and Nov. 1, compared with more than 52,000 in the corresponding period last year. The dwindling inflow can be attributed to tougher border patrols by Greece and the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants seeking to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution. The Greek government has struggled to manage the influx, keeping many in overcrowded camps on the Aegean Greek islands near the Turkish coast. Greece has also been frequently criticized for its questionable practices and policies toward migrants and the inhumane conditions of its overcrowded camps.
Greece responded harshly to the undocumented migrants trying to enter the country after Ankara decided to open its borders, killing at least three and battering and tear-gassing many others, as verified by human rights groups. The Greek government also suspended access to asylum for 30 days for people irregularly entering the country.