Two Syrian mothers who crossed from Turkey to Greece on a refugee boat said Thursday that they were separated from their children during a Turkish coastguard operation to stem the flow of migrants.
The women told journalists their boat was intercepted mid-sea by the Turkish coastguard, who began transferring migrants to their patrol vessel to return them to Turkey, starting with the children – when the handler of their boat started the engine and sped off towards the Greek coast.
The two women of Kurdish origin, one of them pregnant, were picked up with the rest of the passengers by the Greek coastguard and taken to the island of Lesvos without their children, they said.
One of them, who gave her name as Deniz Sidur, said she had been travelling with her 20-year-old son Omar and another five children. The other woman was a mother of two.
UN refugee agency UNHCR is looking into the case.
According to EU police agency Europol, over 10,000 unaccompanied migrant minors have disappeared in Europe since January 2014 following their recorded arrival.