18 Migrants Drown in Aegean Sea

18 Migrants Drown in Aegean Sea18 Migrants Drown in Aegean Sea

At least 18 migrants, including six children, have drowned trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from Turkey.

Of the more than a million migrants who have reached Europe this year, 820,000 have made the sea crossing, the Geneva-based the International Organization for Migration said earlier this week. It said at least 3,692 migrants have died at sea this year.

The Turkish coastguard saved 21 people on Thursday after a wooden boat capsized near Dikili, located across from the Greek island of Lesbos, AFP reported.

The deaths are the latest this week, which saw a plastic boat carrying migrants sink off the Greek island of Farmakonissi, drowning at least 13, including children. In another tragedy on Tuesday, 11 migrants drowned.

Turkey, which hosts more than 2 million refugees from Syria and is a transit point for migrants from Afghanistan and Iraq, is a major gateway for people trying to make their way to Europe.

To stem the flow of migrants, the EU and Turkey agreed on a $3.2 billion aid package last month as well as political concessions to Ankara. In exchange, Turkey is to improve refugee camps and take steps to better integrate Syrians while cracking down on human traffickers.

Since the November deal, Turkish police and coastguard have reportedly arrested smugglers and rounded up would-be migrants. The number of migrants making the sea journey has also dropped from earlier this year due to winter weather and rough seas.