Five migrants drown while Greece pursues deportations

Five migrants drown while Greece pursues deportations
One child is among those dead after a boat capsizes off the coast of Turkey, as Greece pursues deportations as part of a Turkey-EU deal.
2 min read
09 April, 2016
Greece deported more than 200 people to Turkey on Friday [Getty]

The bodies of four women and a child were found on Saturday in the eastern Aegean Sea by the Greek coastguard.

The victims drowned after a small plastic boat capsized in the northeast of the Greek island of Samos. The survivors, two women, two men and a child, told authorities that a total of 11 people had been aboard.

Hundreds have lost their lives in the east Aegean Sea in a quest to reach Europe, but migrant flows into Greece have slowed considerably recently following a controversial EU-Turkey deal to deport migrants from Greek islands to stem mass migration.

On Friday, Greece deported a second batch of more than 200 migrants to Turkey under this deal.

A Greek government statement said the migrants included 111 Pakistanis, four Iraqis, as well as citizens of Bangladesh, India, Morocco, Egypt, and a man claiming to be of Palestinian origin.

In a separate operation, another 97 people – mainly Pakistanis and Bangladeshis – were returned to Turkey via the land border, Greek police said.

The United Nations said that currently more than 22,000 refugee and migrant children are stranded in Greece, facing an uncertain future and even forms of detention since the agreement went into effect last month.

Meanwhile, Germany has announced a sharp drop in asylum claims. The German foreign minister said that new arrivals to Germany have dropped by more than 60 percent in the three months compared with the last quarter of 2015 to 170,000 from more than 500,000.

The drop in migrant numbers appears largely due to much-criticised border closures in the Balkans, as well as an increased clampdown by Turkey on people smugglers.

The German foreign minister warned that the shutdown of the Turkey-Greece route may encourage more migrants to attempt the even more dangerous Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy.

Agencies contributed to this report