22 drown off Greek islands

Despite worsening weather conditions, refugees still making crossing.

Migrant crisis: 22 drown off Greek islands

At least 22 migrants – many of them children – have drowned trying to reach Kalymnos and Rhodes from Turkey, in the second major boat tragedy off Greek islands this week.

Greek officials said 19 people died and 138 were rescued near Kalymnos.

Three others died off Rhodes and three were missing. Six were rescued there.

Meanwhile, rescuers in southern Spain are searching for 35 migrants missing after their boat broke up en route from Morocco. Four bodies have been found.

The unseaworthy, overcrowded boat set off from Alhucemas. Fifteen migrants were rescued.

In recent months the main migrant influx has been to the Greek holiday islands lying off Turkey’s Aegean coast.

Greek authorities confirmed the deaths of 16 migrants off Lesbos after their boat broke up in rough seas late on Wednesday. Rescuers managed to save 274 people.

Thousands have been arriving on Lesbos every day after making the dangerous journey from Turkey. People traffickers usually pack them onto unseaworthy boats, often inflatable dinghies.

The UN estimates more than 700,000 migrants have crossed to Europe by boat so far this year – many of them refugees from war-torn Syria. The approach of winter has so far done little to slow the flow.

The EU is deploying its Frontex border force to new “hotspots” – migrant reception centres in Greece and Italy where local officials are overwhelmed by the numbers. Frontex aims to help speed up the registration of migrants.

But EU member states have not met their targets for equipping and staffing Frontex.

Germany is seeing a huge influx of refugees and migrants – it expects the total to reach about one million this year alone.

Thousands continue to head north from Greece, braving freezing temperatures in the hope of getting asylum in Germany.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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