13:44 GMT17 February 2020
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    Tragedy strikes again on the Aegean Sea after the bodies of at least 34 migrants were found washed up on the Turkish coastline. Fears are growing that the death toll could rise further after two boats capsized in stormy waters.

    Six refugees struggled up the breakwater to safety and were rescued, but the number of migrant deaths from drowning is on the increase. The Turkish coastguard told Reuters that 24 bodies were discovered on the Ayvalik shoreline, whilst ten others were washed ashore in the district of Dikili.  

    Video footage of the aftermath of the drownings showed a body with a lifejacket being pulled from the sea onto a beach by fishermen. Other bodies, also in lifejackets were strewn nearby. 

    ​The desperation of the refugees, left with no choice but to embark on the journey, continues to be exploited by criminals. Many are forced to pay with their lives after boarding unseaworthy boats, wearing lifejackets unfit to keep them alive in the event of danger. Another 56 migrants had to be rescued recently from a sinking dinghy traveling from Dikili to the Greek island of Lesbos. 

    Meanwhile over 1,263 unsafe lifejackets have been seized by Turkish police in a raid on a workshop using child labour in Izmir, a city on the Aegean coastline. According to AFP, they were destined to be sold to migrants but failed to reach safety standards. 

    ​Indeed, despite a US$3.2 billion deal with the Turkish government to stem the flow of migration of people from Turkey to Europe, people continue to cross the Aegean Sea; lining the pockets of people smugglers, capitalizing on the refugee crisis.  More people boarded a boat in December 2015 than during the summer months. The average number of refugees arriving in Lesbos each day is 3,338. In July it was 1,771.  

    While many of the search and rescue operations are carried out by volunteers, the existing border agency, Frontex is set to be replaced with a centralized border authority and coast guard to control all the external borders of the EU.  

    Commenting on the new plans, Luca Visentini, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, said: "EU leaders are completely failing to step up to the scale of the humanitarian crisis inside and outside the EU".  

    Nevertheless, more talks have been scheduled between EU leaders on how to impose new border control measures aimed at stopping migrants from entering northern Europe. 

    ​More than 850,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea in the last year; and this latest tragedy, involving the death of 34 people, is just a drop in the ocean of the number of people who have died trying.  

    Related:

    Bodies of 21 Refugees Found After Boat Sinks Off Turkish Coast
    Migrant Sea Arrivals to Europe Surpass 1Mln in 2015 - UN Refugee Agency
    No Respite for Rescuers as 4,000 Refugees Stranded at Sea Over Xmas
    Tags:
    borders, drowning, sea, humanitarian crisis, migrants, refugee crisis, European Union, Aegean Sea, Turkey
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