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Syrian refugees drown on their way to Greece

Published: Updated:

Six Syrian refugees, including a pregnant woman and three children, drowned as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from Turkey, reported the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Greece.

The report also said that another three women were missing.

The UNHCR and Amnesty International pointed out the risks involved in closing the borders of European countries to illegal immigrants. It says such an action is bound to put the lives of refugees in danger and compromise their rights to asylum.

According to the UNHCR, relatives of the victims were waiting for them to arrive in Lesbos, east of the Agean Sea, and were able to identify the bodies and report that another three were missing. The victims, they said, sailed across on a rubber boat from Turkey.

Based on testimonies, a family of five had recently gone back to Syria from Greece yet decided to flee once again as part of the sailing group.

Greek Coast Guards announced the retrieval Friday of the bodies of a woman, two boys of six and seven, two teenagers, and a young man. According to the relatives, the group tried reaching Greece on March 6.

“This was a tragedy waiting to happen,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of the Europe and Central Asia Program.

He added that as Greece tightens security on its land borders with Turkey, refugees start taking “more and more dangerous routes.”

The Greek branch of Doctors without Borders criticized last week the deplorable conditions that await Syrian refugees upon their entry into Greece and the European Union.