UNHCR dismayed at yet another tragedy in the Aegean

UNHCR is deeply saddened at yet another sea tragedy, in the early hours today, when at least twenty two persons were found dead (12 women, 6 men and 4 children) off the island of Samos, after their boat capsized. Thirty six people were rescued through Greek Coast Guard and Frontex joint operation. According to initial information, the group consisted of Somalis, Eritreans and Syrians. A UNHCR team is on Samos ready to assist the survivors.

During the past two days in three sea operations, including Samos, over 250 people were rescued by the Greek authorities.

Yesterday (4 May) UNHCR visited, in Piraeus, 147 persons of Syrian and Egyptian nationality, including a large number of unaccompanied children, who arrived after a search and rescue operation by the Greek Coast Guard off south Crete. Their boat had been left adrift for more than three days in the Mediterranean sea between Greece and Malta. UNHCR provided information, interpretation services and distributed humanitarian items to the survivors.

Moreover, 69 persons primarily Syrians and Afghans were rescued yesterday off Samothrace and were transferred to the Evros region, where they were met by UNHCR’s team in the area pending their transfer to the First Reception Centre.

In view of this increasing death toll and the dangers refugees continue to face in their efforts to reach safety or to join their family members abroad, UNHCR reiterates its appeal to governments to increase legal migration alternatives so that perilous irregular routes are avoided.