Greece’s migration minister says four children have died after a dinghy transporting migrants from the coast of Turkey sank on Tuesday near the eastern Greek island of Chios.
Notis Mitarakis said 22 people had been rescued and at least one more migrant was still missing.
“Tragically, in spite of the best efforts of the Hellenic Coast Guard, four children – all between the ages of 3 and 14 – are confirmed dead,” Mitarakis wrote in a tweet. He accused neighbor Turkey of failing to observe the terms of a 2016 agreement with the European Union
“The Turkish authorities must do more to prevent exploitation by criminal gangs at source. These journeys should never be allowed to happen,” Mitarachi wrote.
Turkey counters that it hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, at some 4 million, and says the EU has been slow to deliver on promises of financial support.
After Tuesday’s sinking, a rescue helicopter and two coast guard vessels as well as nearby private boats were taking part in the rescue operation.
Greece was the main entry point for refugees and migrants entering the European Union during the 2015-16 crisis but the number of arrivals has dropped sharply over the past two years in part due to tougher policing measures. The EU border protection agency, Frontex, has also stepped up support for the Greek border guard and coast guard. [AP]