At least 23 migrants and refugees have died from the double shipwreck that occurred on Wednesday night in the Aegean Sea waters near the Greek islands, according to a new official casualty toll that also accounts for 14 missing.
The bad weather that plagues the area has complicated the tracing work of the Coast Guard, which is examining areas near the islands of Lesbos and Kythera. Testimonies from migrants confirm that they were traveling in overcrowded boats with little or no protection from emergencies, according to public broadcaster ERT.
The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece, Maria Clara Martin, said that “these latest tragedies are a painful reminder that more needs to be done to prevent people fleeing persecution and war from entrusting their lives to unscrupulous traffickers.”
In 2022 alone, more than 300 migrants and refugees have died in this region of the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has called through the mouth of its local head, Gianluca Rocco, to “intensify cooperation to save visas and improve pathways for safe and regular migration.”
Greece has so far this year received about 7,000 migrants, mostly Palestinians, Afghans and Somalis.