A Turkish-flagged cargo ship rescued the day before with some 400 migrants on board anchored off the island of Kos in the Aegean Sea (Greece), the Greek coast guard said. The Greek government has contacted the European Commission as well as the Turkish authorities to take charge of the boat, according to the Greek press agency Athens News.
“Turkey, once again, has failed to fulfill its duties to the European Union. It will not accept the return of the boat flying the Turkish flag and which left a Turkish port obviously in the sight and knowledge of the Turkish coastguard, and it continues to ignore human life ”, commented this Saturday the Minister of the Merchant Navy Giannis Plakiotakis. The Greek port police had indicated the day before that the 400 passengers were unharmed. According to the Greek Coast Guard, their intervention for this boat constitutes one of the largest relief operations ever carried out in this area of the eastern Mediterranean.
More than 2,500 people crossed the Aegean Sea in 2021
On Tuesday, four migrants drowned in the sinking of their boat off the Greek island of Chios, in the Aegean Sea, which also left between one and four people missing. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 2,500 people crossed the Aegean Sea this year from neighboring Turkey, against 9,700 in 2020, a year for which the UNHCR recorded more than 100 dead or missing .
For 2021, UNHCR Greece had identified until this latest accident three shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea between January and March which left six dead, including one in Greek territorial waters off the island of Lesbos. For its part, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported three other shipwrecks between April and September in the same area that killed 13 people, including eight off the Greek island of Crete.