The Death of a Child Trying to Cross the Sea

Migrants from Afghanistan arrive on a beach near the village of Skala Sikamias on the island of Lesbos. Migrants from Afghanistan arrive on a beach near the village of Skala Sikamias on the island of Lesbos. Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

2 March 2020

A child drowns off the Greek coast after Turkey opens its border with Europe. It is the first incident of the kind since Turkey opened its border

Crossing the sea can turn to be the only hope for people seeking shelter. Unfortunately, this hope can be destroyed and become a tragedy.

Having a home should be the first right, but sometimes for refugees, it becomes only a privilege. The boat heading Greece’s Aegean islands was carrying the hope of 48 people.

Last week Turkey announced the opening of its borders with Europe, which prompted the refugees to head towards the Greek border.  However, Greece did not open its side of the border. When the tragedy happened, the Turkish coast guard was accompanying the boat. On early Monday it entered Greek waters. According to Greek officials, as soon as the boat was approached by the coast guard, passengers overturned it, which is considered as a common tactic used by traffickers to force a rescue. 46 of the passengers were recovered unharmed However, two children were taken to hospital in Lesbos where one of them died. Recently, the number of refugees fleeing to Aegean islands has increased leading to an up growing worry about overcrowded camps.  This is raising frustration of local residents who are voicing their dissatisfaction by prompting blockades. Jacob Warn, the Programme Coordinator for Action for Education, informed that some locals are afraid that, in addition to other reasons, the new arrivals could bring the coronavirus.

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis along with European Union leaders, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen are going to visit the Greek-Turkish border region of Evros on Tuesday. Turkey hosts some 3.5 million Syrian refugees and has threatened to open its borders if left to manage the situation on its own. In addition, camp conditions are expected to become worse due to new arrivals.


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Author: Giulia Francescon; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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