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21 children drown of the coast of Greece

22 January 2016

In response to the news that 42 refugees and migrants drowned off the coast of Greece on Friday, Kate O’Sullivan, part of the Save the Children emergency response team in Lesvos, said:

“Save the Children is horrified at the deaths of at least 42 people, eleven of them children, in two separate shipwrecks off the coast of Greece Friday – bringing the total number of children who have drowned this week to 21. These incidents are unfortunately a regular occurrence off the coast of Lesvos and other islands, particularly now that winter weather has made the crossing more dangerous.

“People are drowning in the face of European governments’ failure to secure safe and legal passage for refugee children and their families, forcing them to take hazardous routes in search of safety. Instead of focusing on building fences and tightening border controls, we are calling on European leaders to take action to ensure no more children lose their lives senselessly.

“In Greece, up to 1,500 people continue to arrive daily, despite the high waves, freezing waters and winter weather. Children are arriving in flimsy clothes, shivering and showing signs of hypothermia such as blue lips.

“Save the Children is providing children in Greece, and along the European migration route, with winter jacket and baby snowsuits, boots, hats, scarves and blankets. We also provide refugees with warm meals, and safe spaces in camps where children can play and be children, and where mothers and babies can stay for the night.”