Migrants drown off Lesbos

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Two children, four women and a man drowned when a boat overturned off the Greek island of Lesbos, the coast guard said, the deadliest incident this year involving migrants trying to reach Greece.

Another 57 people were rescued in the operation, the coast guard added.

It did not provide further details on the incident or the nationality of the victims.

Greece was a main gateway for refugees to Europe in recent years, many fleeing conflict in countries like Syria and Afghanistan, in the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War Two.

The influx of migrants was drastically curtailed by a 2016 accord between Turkey and the EU, after hundreds died crossing to Greek islands a few miles off the Turkish shore. Many migrants still attempt the short but perilous trip.

“This tragedy is a painful reminder people continue to take perilous journeys to reach the Greek Aegean islands,” said Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR Representative in Greece.

“Redoubled efforts are needed to ensure safe and legal ways to reach Europe, so people stop risking their lives in the hands of ruthless traffickers and smugglers.”

Nearly 10,700 refugees and migrants reached Greece so far this year by sea, and 39 people died while attempting the journey, the UNHCR said.