(Lesvos, Greece) – According to the Greek coast guard, a floundering sailboat carrying migrants or refugees has been rescued off the coast of the island of Lesvos in Greece. Around 60 people were on board the ship when it ran aground and everyone was successfully rescued and taken to Lesvos. The coast guard said that the boat was in distress on the south-southwest side of the island. Two fishing boats aided in making the rescue along with two coast guard patrol boats.
Ever since last summer, scores of people have left their home countries in search of a better life. Refugees and migrants from countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have worked their way towards Greece either by the northern border of Greece, which is now closed, or by boat. Of all the islands, Lesvos has been the most impacted. Refugees and migrants all over Greece wait in state run and makeshift camps while their asylum applications are being processed.
At the beginning of the year, the UN’s refugee agency, or UNHCR predicted that up to 1 million refugees or migrants would find their way to Greece in 2016. The number is much lower than what was originally predicted due to border closures and a deal that was made back in march between the European Union and Turkey that was designed to prevent people from leaving Turkey to get to Europe. Currently, morale in the camps is low because of the long wait times people are experiencing in order for their asylum applications to be processed. Boats bound for Europe are often found in distress for several reasons, including the poor conditions of the vessels as well as the fact that they are often overcrowded. While the Greek Coast Guard does have the resources to rescue passengers, they often ask for assistance from nearby, privately owned boats and ships.