Two young women in their 20s are missing after a vessel sank in Mantamado, northeastern Lesvos, on Wednesday.
A total of 32 people – 15 men, 14 women and three children of Somali origin – have been rescued by Greek Coast Guard and Frontex vessels operating in the area.
All of them were transferred to the enclosed area of the port of Mytilene and from there to a quarantine enclosure in the temporary camp for refugees and migrants set up at Kara Tepe in Mytilene.
In a statement, Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi expressed his regret “for the accident and the loss of human lives, despite the immediate operation of the Coast Guard, which saved 32 persons.”
The minister added that it is inconceivable to allow inflatable boats that do not meet any safety requirements and are driven by people without licences or knowledge of the rules of the sea to try to cross the Aegean. “Those who allow it, in addition to violating the European Union-Turkey Joint Declaration, are unfortunately aware that they are putting human lives at great risk.”
According to the minister, “it appears from the testimonies of the rescued that a Turkish coastguard who located them – after the boat called the emergency number – did not provide them with assistance, did not rescue them but allowed them to cross the maritime borders of the European Union illegally.”
Mitarachi also referred to “the NGOs that contribute to these paths, and must, realising their real role, immediately stop contributing, perhaps unwittingly, to the loss of human lives.”
“The international community must, with crucial and strict interventions, protect human lives, contributing substantially to the end of the illegal routes of smugglers,” he concluded.