Athens: At least 17 refugees and migrants, including nine children, drowned off the Greek islands in two separate incidents.
Fourteen people died, 138 were rescued, while many went missing when a boat carrying refugees from Turkey capsized near the Greek island of Kalymnos on Thursday, Xinhua cited the Greek Coast Guard as saying.
In another boat mishap on Friday near Rhodes island, Greek authorities recovered three bodies, rescued six people, while three others went missing.
Since the start of this week, the Greek Coast Guard has rescued more than 1,000 people. And since the start of the year, according to the Greek shipping ministry, around 100,000 refugees have been rescued from Greek waters.
Over half a million refugees and migrants have reached Greece since the beginning of 2015, and most of them would continue their journey to central and northern Europe, according to figures of the UN High Commission for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.
EU member states have promised to better coordinate their efforts to address the challenge and support countries which are at the front line of the refugee flows, in particular debt-laden Greece.
In recent weeks, Greece has been creating new “hot spots” to receive refugees with EU financial and technical support, but officials and experts have stressed that much more needs to be done.
They have called for more efforts to achieve a political resolution of the Syrian war and strengthened cooperation with Turkey to deal with the smuggling networks on Turkish shores.
Survivors of the latest tragedies told Greek media that they were forced to get on the old wooden boats at gunpoint by Turkish traffickers even though they had paid and had been promised new vessels to carry them safely to Greece.