Greece Coast Guard Rescues 59 Migrants

Greece Coast Guard Rescues 59 Migrants

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's coast guard rescued 59 migrants in an inflatable dinghy in rough weather in the Aegean Sea early Wednesday, the coast guard said.

The migrants were picked up off the eastern island of Kos by two patrol boats. They were among a total of 147 people who arrived on three islands in the 24 hours between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning.

Of the others, 44 reached the small island of Kalymnos and the remaining 44 were picked up by the coast guard from another inflatable dinghy off the island of Lesbos.

With many islands close to the Turkish coast, Greece has been the main entry point into the European Union for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees hoping for better lives in Europe, especially in the continent's more prosperous central and northern nations.

An EU-Turkish agreement and Balkan border closures have severely reduced the flow of people through the country this year. Under the deal, new arrivals on Greek islands face being returned to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece.

The measure has left more than 57,600 people stranded in Greece. More than 10,700 of those are on eastern Aegean islands, many living in overcrowded conditions in camps that have long surpassed capacity, particularly on the islands of Chios, Lesbos and Samos.

The aid group Save the Children says those stranded on the islands include about 3,800 children, and has warned that women and children are living in "demoralizing and unsafe conditions."

(KA)