01 July 2010

16 migrants drown trying to reach Greece from Turkey

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

THESSALONIKI, Greece - Daily News with wires
Greek police have found the bodies of 16 migrants believed to have drowned in a river that flows along the Turkey-Greek border as they tried to enter the country, a police source said Wednesday.

The bodies of six men and three women were discovered Tuesday on the Greek side of the Evros River while five other bodies were recovered on the Turkish side, according to the source.

The bodies of two women had previously been found Friday.

The victims, including nine identified as being of African origin, were reportedly part of a group that tried to swim across the river while ferrying the children in a boat.

Greek authorities intercepted a different group of migrants, including 10 African and Afghan children, in the same area Friday.

According to the Migrants Forum of Greece, more than 500 people have drowned since 2007 trying to enter Greece, the main point of entry for illegal migrants to Europe. Most of them attempted to cross over from Turkey.

Last year, 48,000 migrants were detained at Greek’s land borders and 30,400 at its coastal borders, accounting for 75 percent of all illegal migrants to the European Union, according to the Warsaw-based EU agency Frontex.

Turkey is considered the main transit country for illegal immigrants from Asia, who often arrive on the Turkish coast and make their way from there to the Greek islands, the gateway to the European Union.

The EU has pushed Turkey to crack down on organized human-trafficking rings and to agree on repatriating the illegal immigrants who depart from its territory.