At least 27 refugees drowned off the coast of Turkey on 8 February after their boat capsized as they attempted to reach the Greek island of Lesbos. The Turkish coastguard confirmed the boat sank two miles from the Turkish coast. The victims included 11 children.
Three of the refugees were rescued by the coastguard and a fourth was rescued by a fisherman, according to The Guardian. Search crews were conducting an operation to find another nine passengers. The boat capsized in the Aegean Sea by the northwestern province of Balikesir.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that around 400 migrants have died attempting to cross into Europe in 2016. Many refugees traveled using the sea route from Turkey to Greece in 2015, with 850,000 refugees arriving in Greece last year. An estimated 1.1 million refugees have arrived in the EU, the Guardian reported. The IOM says that over 68,000 refugees have arrived in Greece in the first five weeks of 2016.
Turkish media reported that 40 refugees set out for Lesbos from the Altinoluk area early on 8 February. Local newspaper Hurriyet said the boat was using a new route in light of increased security aimed to deter refugees from making the perilous journey. According to the BBC, the newspaper also denied a previous report that another refugee boat had capsized near the Izmir province.
Thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria are being barred from entering Turkey, which has taken in a reported 2.5 million Syrian refugees. The Turkish government says nearly 30,000 Syrians are waiting at the Turkish-Syrian border as they attempt to flee the attacks on Aleppo. But the country says it no longer has the capacity to host any more refugees and has closed the border to those refugees.
News of the latest incident of refugees' deaths arrived as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Turkey to discuss the growing refugee crisis with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The BBC reported that Merkel said the two countries agreed to seek additional help from Nato. Germany and Turkey, both members of the alliance, will ask "to what extent Nato can be helpful with the surveillance situation at sea".