Dozens missing after migrant boat sinks in Aegean Sea – UNHCR |
“Very sad news from the Aegean: Dozens of people are missing after a boat sank off the coast of Rhodes this morning (Wednesday),” UNHCRThe office in Greece said in a tweet.
Media reported that the ship sank at dawn after departing from southern Turkey yesterday, bound for Italy.
“A major search and rescue operation is underway,” UNHCR said.
According to reports, the Greek Coast Guard said an air and sea rescue operation had saved 29 people, all men, from the waters between Rhodes and Crete.
The media also cited Greek authorities as reporting that those rescued were from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.
The shipwreck sailed from Antalya, located on the southern coast of neighboring Türkiye.
News media quoted a press official with the Greek Coast Guard as saying that the rescued people confirmed that the trip began with 80 people on board – so up to 50 people are still missing.
UNHCR confirmed the missing count.
So far this year, UNHCR says more than 60 people have died in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Aegean Sea that intersects the Greek islands and the Turkish coast is often dangerous – claiming the lives of many migrants and refugees traveling in makeshift boats hoping to reach Europe.
Since January, 64 people have died in the eastern Mediterranean, and 111 in 2021, according to International Organization for Migration data (IOM).
According to the IOM, the last shipwreck took place on June 19 that claimed the lives of eight people off the island of Mykonos.
More deadly each time passing
While the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe is lower than in 2015, journeys are becoming more and more stalled.
Last year, the United Nations counted 3,231 migrants and refugees dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea, and 945 so far this year.
At the same time, 70,325 migrants have reached Europe, of which 65,548 individual cases of border crossing were reported in the Mediterranean, according to UNHCR.
Since the beginning of the year, Italy received the largest number of visitors – 43,740, followed by Spain – almost 17,000, Greece – 7,261 and Cyprus – 2,268.
Last year there were 123,300 visitors and in 2020 95,800 visitors. Before that, 123,700 people crossed the Mediterranean in 2019 and 141,500 in 2018.