Aug 11, 2022 - World

Dozens remain missing after migrant boat sinks off of coast of Greece

Greek rescue operation
Migrants disembark from a coast guard vessel after an operation on the Greek island of Chios in October 2021. Photo: Dimitris Vouchouris/Eurokinissi/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of migrants remain missing as Greek authorities say search and rescue operations are continuing into a second day on Thursday, after a boat carrying the migrants sank off the coast of Greece early Wednesday morning, AP reported.

Why it matters: Thousands of migrants die or go missing every year trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe from their home countries via Mediterranean or Atlantic sea routes.

  • More than 3,000 migrants were reported dead or missing in 2021, more than double the 2020 figure, according to the UN refugee agency.

The big picture: The boat had set sail from Antalya in southern Turkey and was en route to Italy when it ran into rough seas and capsized Wednesday morning, per Al Jazeera.

  • According to the Greek coast guard, 29 men from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq were rescued Wednesday shortly after the boat sank about 38 miles off the coast of Greece, AP reported.
  • The men told authorities that there had been between 60 and 80 people aboard the vessel. On Thursday, a Greek navy ship and three merchant ships continued the search and rescue efforts.
  • “Up to 50 people are still missing," a coast guard official said Wednesday, the Guardian reported.

State of play: Greece, which has increased its patrols of the area, has faced criticism for forcefully expelling migrants without letting them apply for asylum — a charge Greek authorities deny, per AP.

  • Turkey, on the other hand, has faced criticism for allowing migrants to leave its shores in defiance of a 2016 deal with the European Union that it would stop migrant flows in exchange for aid, according to the Guardian.
Go deeper