In a devastating incident, a migrant boat carrying hopeful souls met a tragic fate northeast of the Greek island of Lesbos, near the Turkish coast. Greek authorities reported that the boat sank, resulting in the loss of four lives. While 18 fortunate individuals were rescued.
The Greek coast guard played a crucial role in this rescue operation. Their vessel located the 18 survivors and, shockingly, four individuals who were found unconscious. These survivors and victims were swiftly transported to the island’s main port of Mytilene.
This heart-wrenching incident is part of a concerning trend in the region. Over the weekend, the Greek coast guard had been diligently patrolling the waters. Picking up numerous people from boats in the eastern Aegean Sea. This surge in new arrivals over the past two months has raised alarm bells.
Rising Migrant Arrivals
For decades, Greece has been a primary entry point into the European Union for individuals fleeing conflict or poverty in regions such as the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. They embark on treacherous journeys in the hope of securing a better life in Europe.
According to United Nations data, more than 14,000 people have already reached Greece by land and sea this year. Accounting for approximately one-tenth of the total successful Mediterranean crossings. Most of these crossings, numbering around 104,000, led to Italy. Comparatively, arrivals in Greece for the entirety of 2022 stood at 19,000.
This tragedy evokes haunting memories of a similar incident in June, when a battered fishing trawler carrying an estimated 500-750 people from Libya to Italy sank in international waters off southwestern Greece. In that instance, only 104 survivors were found. Meanwhile, Greek authorities faced substantial criticism for not evacuating the migrant boat in a timely manner.
The government attributes the recent rise in migrant crossings to favorable summer weather conditions and the opportunistic actions of smugglers capitalizing on the increase in small boat traffic in the Aegean during the tourist season. This ongoing crisis underscores the urgent need for international cooperation and measures to ensure the safety of those undertaking these perilous journeys in search of a better future.