Six children drowned Tuesday after a rubber dingy carrying Afghan refugees to Greece sank off Turkey’s Aegean coast, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing Turkey's state-run news agency. Five refugees were reportedly rescued by the coast guard, while a search was underway for two others reported missing, according to the Anadolu Agency.
According to the local report, the bodies of the children were recovered from the sea. The ages of the children remained unclear, but one of them was a baby, AP reported. The refugees were reportedly aiming to reach the island of Khios from the resort of Cesme, despite bad weather.
Turkey has been stepping up efforts to stop migrants from leaving to Greece by sea after it reached a deal with the European Union to stem the flow of refugees into Europe. Last week, Turkish authorities detained around 3,000 refugees -- mainly from the war-torn regions of Syria and Iraq, in the town of Ayvacik, north of Cesme -- who were planning to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece. Turkey reportedly hosts over 2 million refugees, who have been fleeing the violence of the Islamic State group and other extremist organizations in Syria.
Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. According to estimates by the United Nations, over 700,000 people have crossed into Europe, mostly from Syria. Greece is the main point of entry into Europe for the refugees, and the influx has become tough to handle for the country, which is already going through its worst financial crisis in decades.