Six migrant children drown off Turkey’s Aegean coast
ÇANAKKALE / MUĞLA – Doğan News Agency
Six migrant children have died after two separate mishaps involving Greece-bound inflatable boats off Turkey’s Aegean coast, amid migrants’ ongoing attempts to cross to Greece’s islands by sea.
Four Afghan children died late Nov. 26 after a Lesbos-bound boat carrying 55 migrants of Syrian and Afghan origin capsized off Ayvacık, a district in the northwestern province of Çanakkale. The boat had reportedly started to sail off from Ayvacık’s Sivrice Bay.
Afghan and Syrian migrants heading toward the Greek island informed Turkish coast guards in Ayvacık about the capsizing at around 1 a.m. on Nov. 27. Some 51 migrants were rescued, but four Afghan migrant children were found dead.
Some 357 other migrants, who attempted to cross through the Aegean Sea but later failed to do so because of a heavy southwester and rain, were rescued by Turkish Coast Guard during the night.
Coast Guard teams also found the lifeless bodies of two toddlers off Bodrum, a popular resort town in the Aegean province of Muğla, after a Greece-bound boat carrying 20 migrants capsized early on Nov. 27. Fifteen migrants were rescued from the vessel heading toward the Greek island of Kos.
The toddlers who lost their lives were siblings, identified by their relatives as a 1-year-old Diven Halil Hüseyin and 4-year-old Veren Halil Hüseyin.
The migrants were brought ashore by a coast guard boat as search and rescue operations continued.
Meanwhile, a 4-year-old girl named Ceylan Nesrin Solar Omar was rescued and taken to the Bodrum Public Hospital. The girl was reported to be in good condition.
Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in its southeast and the EU member states of Bulgaria and Greece in its west, Turkey has become a key transit point for foreign migrants looking to illegally cross to the EU in order to flee the violence in Iraq and Syria and also to find a higher standard of living.
The wave of migration across the Aegean, however, has often resulted in injuries and deaths amid the capsizing of migrant-carrying boats and abuse of migrants by human traffickers.
The number of migrants saved after failed attempts to cross via the sea from Turkey to Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to last year.
In 2014, the number of migrants rescued by Turkey’s coast guard and local institutions was 14,961, in 574 separate incidents, according to Prime Ministry figures. So far this year, the number is 79,489 migrants in 2,133 incidents.
In addition, more than 200 smuggling gangs have been targeted in security operations launched by the authorities over the past two years.