At least 33 people including five children have drowned after a boat bound for Greece and carrying refugees capsized off the Turkish coast. This will put further pressure on the Turkish government to increase patrols across what is becoming a watery graveyard for refugees fleeing conflicts in countries including Syria and Iraq.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, 218 refugees have died this month attempting to cross the Mediterranean. They often finding themselves at the mercy of people smuggling gangs, despite a €3bn ($3.25bn, £2.28bn) increase in Turkey's funding from the EU to police the humanitarian crisis.
Turkey's state-owned news provider Anadolu Agency said that coast guards rescued 75 more people from the sea near the resort of Ayvacık on 30 January. The group are understood to have been heading for the Greek island of Lesbos. The agency said that the survivors were natives of Afghanistan, Syria and Myanmar. Turkey has already received an estimated 2.5 million refugees from Syria.
According to the Turkish coast guard, the boat set off from near Bademli, a village in Canakkale province, before encountering problems during the crossing and sinking. Of the 1.1 million refugees that arrived in EU territories last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea in Greece from Turkey.
On Thursday, 28 January, the Italian Navy was called to the aid of three migrant boats in the Mediterranean, rescuing 290 people and recovering six bodies. The navy rescued 109 migrants from a large rubber boat in the morning, and then 107 from a second boat a few hours later.
When it arrived at a third rubber craft, it was found to be sinking. Authorities managed to pull 74 people to safety, but six bodies were recovered from the water.