Archive: A handout photo made available by the Hellenic Coast Guard showing 27 migrants, rescued by a greek tanker, disembark from a vessel of Hellenic Coast Guard in the port of Kardamena, Kos Island, Dodecanese, Greece, 10 August 2022 | Photo: EPA/HELLENIC COAST GUARD
Archive: A handout photo made available by the Hellenic Coast Guard showing 27 migrants, rescued by a greek tanker, disembark from a vessel of Hellenic Coast Guard in the port of Kardamena, Kos Island, Dodecanese, Greece, 10 August 2022 | Photo: EPA/HELLENIC COAST GUARD

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece have reiterated their plea for the EU to create "safe pathways" in European waterways in the wake of two more shipwreck tragedies in Greece.

A total of 23 people have been reported dead to date after two separate incidents involving vessels carrying migrants which sank off the Greek islands of Evia and Samos last week.

Ongoing search for survivors from the two separate shipwrecks was reportedly hampered by strong winds last week, with local media reporting that dozens were still feared missing.

Less than a month ago, two deadly shipwrecks off the Greek islands of Lesvos and Kithira claimed at least 28 lives.

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) express their deep sorrow at yet more loss of life in the Aegean, in two separate shipwrecks earlier this week," said a joint media statement from the two organizations on Thursday (November 3).

'Tragic deaths at sea and further suffering are avoidable'

"Every life lost is one too many. Tragic deaths at sea and further suffering are avoidable but only with concerted action and international cooperation to find viable solutions," added Maria Clara Martin, UNHCR Representative in Greece.

"To prevent the use of increasingly dangerous routes and smuggling, refugees need realistic and humane alternatives that protect their right to safety and asylum," she added.

"Children, young women and men continue to drown in the Mediterranean. The need to save lives and prevent more tragedies should be a priority driving international efforts to promote safe migration pathways which can minimize the risk of migrants dying or going missing," said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of IOM Mission in Greece.

IOM's Missing Migrants Project has documented at least 25,114 deaths in the Mediterranean since 2014. On the Eastern Mediterranean route 2,162 people have lost their lives during the same period.

Since the beginning of 2021, 111 people lost their lives trying to reach Europe through the Eastern Mediterranean route and more than 2,000 deaths were recorded in all the Mediterranean Sea.

In September, the IOM and UNHCR had already called for the EU to create safe pathways in European waterways after the two other fatal shipwreck tragedies near Lesvos and Kithira.

But nothing has yet come of that plea, and it remains to be seen what actions from EU authorities will be forthcoming after these latest incidents.

 

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