Saturday, 23 September, 2023

15 migrants, including one fatality, found on Greek islet

A Greek coastguard patrol boat on Tuesday picked up 15 migrants, one of whom had died, on the Aegean islet of Farmakonisi, port police said.

The 14 -- five men, six women and three children -- have been transferred to the nearby island of Leros and an inquiry has been opened into the cause of the fatality, they said in a statement.

According to the migrants, "they are all Afghan nationals," a spokesperson told AFP.

Farmakonisi, like other islands in the Aegean close to the Turkish coast, straddles a route used by many migrants seeking to reach Europe.

With the help of the European border agency Frontex, the Greek port police regularly patrol the area and conduct daily operations to help migrant boats in difficulty.

Thes perilous stretch of sea has seen numerous boats capsize and Greece has also been frequently accused of "illegal expulsions," something that it denies.

Eleven people died, including eight children, when a migrant boat capsized off Farmakonisi in 2014.

In 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Greece for the disaster.

It accepted claims by the migrants that the coastguard vessel had been travelling at high speed to push the refugees back towards Turkish waters, and this had caused the vessel to capsize.

According to official figures, 10,790 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece in the first eight months of 2023, double the 5,216 recorded over the same period last year.