An abandoned life jacket in the Aegean Sea in 2016 | Photo: L. Pitarakis / Picture-alliance/AP Photo
An abandoned life jacket in the Aegean Sea in 2016 | Photo: L. Pitarakis / Picture-alliance/AP Photo

The body of a young boy, thought to be six years old, was discovered by the Greek coast guard near the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea. A woman, still conscious, was located in the same spot along with ten other migrants nearby. Six others were located on land after their boat ran into trouble off the Greek island.

The boat, which set off from Turkey, was thought to be carrying 24 people when it set off, reported the Greek City Times.

So far, the body of a six-year-old boy has been found in the waters near the island, along with a still conscious woman and ten other migrant survivors nearby, said a sposkesman of the Greek coast guard on Monady.

A further six "foreign nationals" were located on land in the east of the island by the local fire brigade, reported Greek City Times. That means, said the newspaper, that "six are still missing."

However, other agencies have reported that apart from the young boy, all other occupants of the boat were either picked up by the coast guard or made it to shore by swimming.

Swam to shore

According to the German press agency dpa, the boat ran into trouble on Sunday and seven people managed to swim to shore.

The French news agency AFP, citing the Greek coast guard, wrote on Sunday evening that six migrants had been picked up on land as well as further seven who were later found on the island.

Arrivals on Samos

Sea arrivals on the Greek Islands from Turkey have significantly dropped this year compared to last year. The latest figures from the UN refugee agency UNHCR show that in the week from October 26 to November 1, a total of 17 people arrived on all of the Aegean islands.

In the same week last year, a total of 2,370 people arrived.

As of November 1, there were "some 19,900 refugees and asylum seekers" present on the Greek Islands, the majority of whom came originally from Afghanistan, 45%. Syrians make up about 20% of the population on the islands and those from Democratic Republic of Congo around 7%.

Children account for 29% of the migrant, refugee and asylum seeking population on the Greek islands, of which, according to UNHCR, nearly 7 out of 10 are under 12 years old and about 5% are unaccompanied or separated, mostly from Afghanistan.

Fewer arrivals in 2020

The drop in numbers in 2020 are partly due to global restrictions placed on travel by the COVID-19 pandemic and partly due to tougher controls by the Greek border forces.

AFP reports that Greek immigration officials said that the numbers of migrant arrivals from Turkey had "declined by 73% this year."

Several charities have claimed that the Greek government has been engaging in pushbacks of migrants towards Turkey, it’s a charge the Greek minister for immigration and asylum, Notis Mitarakis denies.


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