At last count, 44 refugees drowned in two separate incidents off Greek islands overnight, making it one of the most deadly nights ever, since the escalation of the refugee crisis began over a year ago.
One boat sank off the coast of the small Greek islet of Kalolimnos, killing 34 people, including 11 children. Another eight people died after a boat sank off the island of Farmakonisi.
The Greek coast guard recovered 34 bodies and dozens were rescued from the wreckages.
Meanwhile in Davos, where the World Economic Forum is taking place, leaders from the European Union expressed concerns about the future of Europe.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said Europe was close to breaking point. “We can’t cope with the numbers any longer. We need to get a grip on this,” he said.
The French prime minister Manuel Valls echoed his Dutch counterpart’s warnings, warning that the refugee crisis and security challenges that it has created are posing existential threats to Europe as a concept. “The European project can die, not in decades or years but very fast, if we are unable to face up to the security challenge,” he said.
European Council President Donald Tusk told the European Parliament that the Schengen passport-free travel zone would likely fail in “no more than two months” if EU member states did not implement an EU-wide strategy.