Video demonstrates perils facing refugees trying to reach Greek islands from western Turkey
IZMIR, Turkey – Turkey’s Coast Guard on Friday released dramatic footage showing the rescue of refugees off the country’s west coast.
The footage shows a Coast Guard patrol going to assist an overcrowded rubber dinghy being buffeted by waves in the Aegean Sea near Cesme, a resort town to the south of Izmir.
In another clip filmed from a helicopter, a rigid inflatable boat with four members of the Coast Guard aboard goes to the rescue of a man floundering in the sea nearby having fallen out of the dinghy.
A diver jumps in the water to drag him aboard the Coast Guard boat before taking him back to a ship.
The rescue operation in Azmak Bay, filmed on Thursday morning and released Friday, vividly demonstrates the dangers faced by hundreds of thousands of refugees who have flocked to Turkey’s western coast in recent months to risk the perilous journey to nearby Greek islands.
Cesme is just 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the island of Chios, providing a tempting target for refugees – mostly Syrians fleeing their country’s civil war.
Of the more than 1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea in Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over the course of the year, 805 died in the Aegean.
In the first two weeks of 2016, more than 23,000 arrived by sea in Greece and 50 have died, the IOM said.
Worsening winter weather conditions have made the trip even more dangerous.