Rescuers and paramedics carry the body of an undocumented migrant at the port of Lesvos island, Greece | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/GIORGOS PAPADOPOULOS
Rescuers and paramedics carry the body of an undocumented migrant at the port of Lesvos island, Greece | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/GIORGOS PAPADOPOULOS

Greece has called on Turkey to block all boat departures of migrants from its country, due to the shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea last week in which 23 persons lost their lives.

"I urgently call on Turkey to act immediately to impede all illegal boat departures due to the adverse weather conditions. Many lives were lost already in the Aegean Sea, people drown after setting foot on these boats that are not equipped for a similar journey. The European Union must act."

Notis Mitarachi, the Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, issued this call to action on his Twitter profile on Thursday (October 6) while commenting on the shipwrecks of the previous night off the islands of Lesbos and Kythira, when 23 persons died.

'Until Turkey will back smugglers, tragedies will continue'

"The Greek Coast Guard and the Maritime Ministry are doing everything possible. We have to keep in mind we are dealing with smugglers who are putting people on board these boats who have no idea how to steer it, nor about how to react at sea. I have officially requested Turkey, as we have intelligence on new boats that are trying to begin crossing the Aegean Sea with winds reaching 7 on the Beaufort scale," stated Mitarachi in a new message via social media.

The Greek government's spokesperson, Yannis Economou, also commented on the recent boat tragedies: "Until Turkey will fail to implement the law and until it will continue to support smugglers, until it will not honor the agreements it had undersigned, unfortunately new tragedies will unfold under our eyes."

The Greek PM, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, launched a call for cooperation from Prague, where he had flown to take part in the EU summit: "The time has come to work together in a more fruitful way to avoid similar incidents from occurring and to impede smugglers from exploiting innocent and desperate people who are trying to reach the European continent on boats which are clearly ill-equipped for such a journey," he stated.

A total of 23 confirmed shipwreck victims, 16 women and one minor

The total number of confirmed victims of the shipwrecks off the coasts of the Greek islands of Lesbos and Kythira is 23 on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, according to figures provided by the Greek coast guard.

Five bodies were found off the island of Kythira, an island to the south of the Peloponnese region, while 18 persons were found off the coasts of Lesbos.

The coast guard added that 16 were young women from Africa, one boy and one man.

According to a reconstruction of what happened, there were 40 people of board. Until now 28 migrants, survivors of the shipwreck, were rescued. While the ship that sunk near Kythira had approximately 95 people on board, of these 80 were rescued by Greek authorities.


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