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Seven drowned in shipwreck off the coast of Lesvos, as the IRC calls for safe and legal routes for people seeking safety

  • At least seven migrants have drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Lesvos
  • Two of the victims are said to be children
  • Incident highlights the urgent need for safe and legal pathways to safety

Athens, Greece, 11th June 2019 - Seven migrants have drowned after a boat carrying more than sixty people sank off the coast of the Greek island of Lesvos, while trying to make the crossing from Turkey. Two of the victims are said to be children, the latest in a number of incidents that put a devastating spotlight on the treacherous journeys to safety that many families are forced to make.

The incident highlights the urgent need for safe and legal pathways to safety for vulnerable people fleeing conflict or persecution. Since 2015 over 1.1 million people fleeing conflict and persecution have travelled through Greece in search of safety and sanctuary in Europe, and people are still forced to face put their lives at risk on the journey.

Imogen Sudbery, Director of Policy and Advocacy for IRC Europe said:

“This morning’s tragedy on Lesvos is a stark reminder of the urgent need for refugees to be able to access safe and legal routes to safety. Without this, desperate people will continue to seek out even more dangerous routes, often turning to smuggling that exposes them to unimaginable trauma. EU leaders must put the heart back into their decision making and offer safe alternatives for people caught in crisis to apply for asylum; they must urgently agree to expand resettlement places for the most vulnerable and offer humanitarian visas and family reunification. Only then will such tragedies be avoided and people prevented from having to risk their lives to undertake dangerous journeys in search of sanctuary.”

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.