Greece on Tuesday blamed Turkey for a migrant boat sinking in the Aegean that claimed the lives of four children, noting that Ankara should prevent smugglers from risking peoples’ lives at sea, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Tragically in spite of the best efforts of the Hellenic coastguard, 4 children – all between the ages of 3 and 14 – are confirmed dead, 1 person is missing, 22 were rescued and are being cared for ashore,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said in a tweet.
“The Turkish authorities must do more to prevent exploitation by criminal gangs at source. These journeys should never be allowed to happen,” Mitarachi said.
The coastguard told AFP that among the 22 people rescued in rough seas near the island of Chios were 14 men, seven women and another child.
In a statement earlier, the coastguard had said 27 people were thought to be inside the boat, according to the survivors.
Coastguard patrol boats, a NATO vessel, nearby ships and fishing boats and two helicopters were participating in the search.
According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, over 2,500 people have crossed the Aegean from neighboring Turkey this year, compared to over 9,700 in 2020.
Over 100 people died or are missing in migrant boat sinkings last year, the agency’s data show.
Greece blames Turkey for not taking sufficient action to curb smugglers who send out migrants in unsafe boats and dinghies from its shores.
“This is the reality of the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs in the Aegean — unscrupulous smugglers putting lives at risk in heavily laden unseaworthy dinghies off Chios,” Mitarachi said Tuesday.