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Syrian refugee family reunited two weeks after separation

Greece: A Syrian refugee mother separated from five of her children while crossing from Turkey to Greece was reunited with them on Wednesday, the UN refugee agency said.

Deniz Sidour and her family were making the perilous sea journey on February 18 when their boat was stopped by the Turkish coastguard, who began transferring the migrants to a different vessel to bring them back to the Turkish coast.

But suddenly the captain of the migrant boat sped away from the Turkish officials, splitting up the family.

Sidour, a Syrian Kurd originally from Aleppo, made it to the Greek island of Lesbos where she was sheltered by an NGO along with her 20-year-old son, Omar.

She subsequently stumbled upon her children, aged between 7 and 14, at the Lesbos port of Mytilene.

The youngsters had been helped back to Greece with the aid of a family friend who found them on a Turkish beach, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

Sidour now hopes to join her husband who has already settled in Germany.

“We are obviously very pleased they have been reunited. But once again this story highlights how people smugglers take advantage of dire situations,” Boris Cheshirkov, the UNHCR’s representative in Lesbos, told AFP.

Like neighbouring Greek islands, Lesbos has become a gateway for a relentless flow of migrants attempting to reach Europe via Turkey.

More than 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children have disappeared since January 2014 after arriving in Europe, according to European police agency Europol.

Upwards of 131,000 migrants and refugees have reached Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year, more than the total number in the first five months of 2015, according to the United Nations.