UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened at news of 16 deaths in the Aegean Sea today, from a shipwreck off of Agathonisi Island, south of Samos. Three people have been rescued but at least two others are thought to be missing. A search and rescue operation for survivors is ongoing.
UNHCR is in continuous contact with Greek authorities and stands ready to support by all means necessary.
Some 4,000 people, mainly women and children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have arrived by sea to Greece so far this year. Today’s tragic incident is the first shipwreck in the Aegean of 2018, but some 500 refugees and migrants lost their lives or went missing in the Greek Aegean Sea over the past two years.
Renewed efforts are needed to combat smuggling and trafficking and to strengthen safe alternatives to the perilous sea journeys including through family reunification, resettlement, and private sponsorship.