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Twenty-Two Migrants Drown off Greek Coast in Two More Shipwrecks

A barge carrying 25-30 migrants capsized off the coast of Greece early Wednesday morning, resulting in the death of at least eleven of the passengers, including four children and one newborn infant.

Fifteen of the passengers were saved by rescuers while another two are still missing, according to Greek authorities. Three of the survivors were in a coma and were transported to the hospital on the island of Leros.

The shipwreck occurred off the coast of the Greek island of Farmakonisi, one of the Dodecanese islands, just eight miles from the Turkish coast.

On Tuesday evening there was another shipwreck off the Turkish coast in which eleven migrants, including three children, drowned when their boat capsized en route across the Aegean Sea to the island of Samos. Seven others were rescued.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe in 2015 has surpassed one million, a fourfold increase over 2014 and the highest yearly figure since World War II.

The one million mark was passed on December 21 with a total of 972,000 people who had crossed the Mediterranean, along with another 34,000 who arrived by land into Bulgaria and Greece via Turkey.

Nearly 3,700 people fleeing from Africa and the Middle East have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the last year, and another 150,000 have been rescued from sea disasters by the Italians, according to Italy’s Minister of Transportation, Graziano Delrio.

Specifically, over 800 thousand people have arrived in Greece from Turkey: 455 thousand of these were fleeing from Syria and 186 thousand from Afghanistan. About a million immigrants have arrived in Germany alone this year, but this figure includes a large number of people who arrived from the Balkans early in the year.

The points of entry have been Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The majority of the migrants (816,752) arrived in Greece, followed by Italy with 150,317. A full half of the migrants have been Syrian, while 20 per cent are Afghans, and seven per cent Iraqis.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

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