Greek Coast Guard rescues 48 refugees on boat off Kephalonia island

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-16 02:43:18|Editor: yan
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By Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, April 15 (Xinhua) -- A total of 48 refugees, among them 13 children, were rescued by the Greek Coast Guard off the coast of Kephalonia on Saturday, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

The boat which was carrying them to Italy sent a distress call while sailing in the Ionian Sea off western Greece. It has not been clarified yet where they boarded the vessel.

Shortly before sunset, the boat was safely towed to the island's port of Argostoli where medical crews in ambulances were waiting to provide first care to people in need.

According to local authorities, the refugees, who are mainly Syrians and Kurds according to early information, will be temporarily accommodated at the premises of the local scouts association.

"These people need help and will remain on our island as long as necessary and they will be offered humanitarian aid and when the necessary procedures are completed they will be included in the readmission procedures," read a statement issued by the Regional Authority of Kephalonia.

After the closure of Greece's northern borders in February 2016, more than 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece according to the latest official data released by the Greek government earlier this week.

As the procedures for their relocation under an EU program drag on for several months and the 2016 EU-Turkey deal has succeeded in stemming the flow via the Aegean Sea, some choose to risk their lives to continue their journey to central Europe via the Ionian Sea.