Saturday, 9 January 2016

14 dead in two deadly migrant bus crashes in Turkey

Fourteen people, most of them Syrian refugees, were killed and dozens more injured in two deadly bus accidents in Turkey in the past 24 hours, reports said Saturday.

Early on Saturday, a bus carrying migrants hoping to catch a boat to the Greek island of Lesbos overturned and rolled into a gorge in the western Balikesir province, killing seven Syrians and the driver, state-run Anatolia news agency said.

Forty-two others were injured, it said.

In a separate incident a day earlier, a bus carrying migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar slammed into a car in the northwestern Canakkale province, killing six Syrians and injuring 30 others, the private Dogan news agency said.

They were also being driven to a beach from where they would have tried to cross to Lesbos, it said.

Turkey, which is home to some 2.2 million refugees from Syria's civil war, has become a hub for migrants seeking to reach Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing.

This week, the bodies of 36 migrants, including several children, were found washed up along the Turkish coast after their boats sank while crossing the Aegean Sea to EU member Greece.

The European Union has pledged to give Ankara three billion euros ($3.2 billion) as well as political concessions in return for its cooperation in tackling Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II.

But earlier this week, the EU said it was far from satisfied with Turkey's cooperation in stemming the flow of migrants trying to reach the bloc.

Saturday 09 January 2015

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46 migrants already have perished in the Mediterranean in 2016

It's already looking like 2016 could be another grim, record-breaking year when it comes to the number of migrants and refugees who die or go missing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Just eight days into the new year, 46 migrants and refugees have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea, according to new figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). That’s the same number of refugees and migrants who went missing or died in the first three months of 2014, and more than half the number who died or went missing in all of January 2015 (82).

Meanwhile, the number of people who have arrived in Greece by sea was 9,930 between January 1 and January 6, an enormous increase when compared to the 5,550 people who arrived by sea in the entire month of January last year.

This year’s fatality and missing numbers are mainly due to two shipwrecks off the Turkish coast earlier this week. Turkish authorities retrieved dozens of bodies, including three children, at two separate locations along the coast of the Aegean Sea (which, for the purposes of its report, the IOM counts as the Mediterranean) after an overcrowded, inflatable boat attempting to reach Greece capsized on Tuesday. The deaths came several days after a 2-year-old refugee became 2016’s first casualty at sea.

Last year was the deadliest year on record for migrants and refugees at sea, according to the IOM. The Mediterranean Sea was by far the deadliest migration route in the world, with 3,771 people perishing in its waters. More than a million asylum seekers arrived in Europe last year, the majority of them from the war-torn nations of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite a deal reached between the European Union and Turkey late last year that saw Brussels agree to provide 3 billion euros ($3.27 billion) in aid in exchange for a crackdown on the flow of people, the number of arrivals to Europe from Turkey has not fallen sufficiently, EU officials said. European countries are still figuring out how to deal with the influx of migrants, as ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq mean the number of arrivals likely won’t slow down.

Germany, one of the most popular destinations for migrants and refugees coming to Europe, is grappling with rising tensions after hundreds of men described as being Arab or North African sexually assaulted and robbed women outside Cologne’s train station on New Year’s Eve, prompting the resignation of the city's police chief on Friday. There are fears that some of the men were part of the refugee influx to Germany in 2015, and German officials are now considering deporting migrants who commit crimes.

Saturday 09 January 2015

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