At least 18 Europe-bound refugees drown in Aegean Sea

Published December 19th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

At least 18 refugees have died after their boat overturned in the Aegean Sea on the way from Turkey to Greece, the Turkish coastguard says.

The fatalities occurred on Saturday when a vessel en route from Turkey to the Greek island of Kalymnos went down.

Some 14 others on the boat were pulled to safety by the Turkish coastguard, according to local media. The boat included people from different countries including Syria, Iraq and Pakistan.

The incident was the latest in a string of refugee boat tragedies off the Greek shore. On December 10, four asylum seekers said to be of Iraqi origin died after a boat capsized off the Greek coast.

Europe is facing record refugee arrivals and officials in the European countries reportedly remain divided over how to deal with refugees.

While a few European leaders support an open-door refugee policy, others are in favor of controlling the EU’s external borders, deporting more people and paying third countries to keep asylum seekers on their soil.

According to the latest figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), nearly one million refugees have reached Europe’s shores so far this year, while more than 3,300 people have either died or gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent.

Most of the asylum seekers, who risk their lives to reach Europe, are reportedly fleeing conflict-hit zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. 

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