21 Refugees, Many of Them Children have Washed Ashore in Turkey

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At least 21 refugees, many of them children have drowned in the Aegean Sea and washed ashore on the coast of Turkey in two separate incidents in which their boats overturned in rough waters last night as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Nine bodies washed up on a beach in the resort town of Ayvalık early on Tuesday, prompting authorities to dispatch coastguard boats and gendarmerie officials to search sea and land for possible survivors.

By late morning, the death toll reached 14, the coastguard said, adding that seven others were either rescued or found alive. Hours later, the Dogan news agency reported that seven other bodies had washed up on shore at Dikili, a resort about 30 miles south of Ayvalık.

Several reports say the number of people to have washed ashore to be as high as 37. Among the dead was a 6-month pregnant woman, Dogan news agency reported.

30% of all the refugees who have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean were children, 5% of them babies under two years, Unicef reported. In October alone, 90 children died crossing the sea in their attempt to reach Europe, including 5 under two years old.

The number of refugees saved after making failed attempts to cross via the sea from Turkey into Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to last year.


The refugees embarked from near Ayvalik in an attempt to make the crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos.

District governor Namik Kemal Nazli told the semi-official Anatolian News Agency that officials believed the refugees were from Iraq, Syria and Algeria.

About 850,000 refugees crossed into Greece last year, paying smuggling gangs to ferry them over from Turkey in frail boats. The International Organisation for Migration said an estimated 3,770 people died crossing the Mediterranean last year, making 2015 the deadliest year on record for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe.

In a similar incident in September 39 refugees including 15 children and 4 babies drowned in the Mediterranean.

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A Syrian woman cries in relief as she embraces her three young children after a very rough crossing of the Aegean from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. UNHCR/I.Pickett

The images of the children on the beach bore a startling resemblance to those of the three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, whose death last year prompted a public outcry to tackle the refugee crisis. 

In the beginning of November the Greek coastguard announced that another 11 refugees, most of them infants, had died in their desperate attempt to reach the west.

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Bodies of 11 refugees, most of them infants, recovered off Greece

Turkish coast guards have rescued 241 refugees in last three days off Turkey’s western coastal province Izmir

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