NEWS

Greek migration minister sends letter to EU, UNHCR on deadly wreck

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Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis on Friday sent a letter to European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson and UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc on a migrant boat wreck that claimed the lives of two women on Thursday.

In the letter, Mitarakis cites testimony from survivors of the sunken dinghy, which went down off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos after sailing from Turkey. He says they claimed to have tried to return to Turkish shores after meeting rough seas, but being forced back into Greek waters by a Turkish coast guard boat that made dangerous maneuvers to generate waves around the smaller vessel.

The witness also reportedly claimed that the Turkish coast guard officers did not alert their Greek counterparts that the dinghy was in distress until they saw it sailing into Greek waters.

Mitarakis added that the two women could have been saved if the Turkish coast guard had responded to the initial call for help from the dinghy’s passengers and called for the intervention of the European Commission and the United Nations refugee agency to prevent such an incident to happen again by reaching out to the Turkish side.