ITV News witnesses desperate refugees unhindered by winter temperatures and high seas trying to reach Greece

There was another sobering reminder of the human cost of Europe's refugee crisis on Thursday as politicians clashed over whether Britain was doing enough to help.

David Cameron said the government would accept more child refugees, but mainly from camps near Syria.

It came as 10 children and 15 adults - Iraqi and Syrian refugees - drowned when their boat capsized off Greece.

ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine filed this report from a rescue ship in the Aegean Sea.

Logic suggested that winter would herald a dramatic reduction in the number of refugees and migrants trying to make the crossing from Turkey to the eastern Greek islands.

But it hasn’t turned out that way.

Desperation and greed are more powerful spurs than high seas and cold are deterrents.

The desperate are the tens of thousands who continue to flee war and hopelessness in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The greedy are the Turkish smugglers who charge exorbitant amounts of money for the illegal crossing across the Aegean Sea.

Bodies from the latest tragedy are brought to the shore. Credit: ITV News
An Iraqi Kurd man cries after losing his wife and two children as they crossed the Aegean Sea. Credit: ITV News

Last night’s tragedy off the island of Samos brings the number of people who have drowned in this sea so far this January to well over 150 – and those are only the deaths the authorities know about.

The drownings are happening at an average rate of more than six every day.

MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) patrols the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Andaman seas. Credit: Jason Florio

Myself and ITV News cameraman Sean Swan are on board a rescue ship called MOAS Responder.

MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) is a charity set up in 2014 in response to the migration from Libya to the Italian islands of Lampadusa and Sicily.

It now has rescue ships patrolling the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Andaman seas.

In the early hours of this morning we were 20 miles south of the tragic Samos sinking ready to respond to any calamities that might occur in the area designated our responsibility by the Greek coastguard.

Around 2am the radar showed a small boat next to a rocky outcrop. We approached and trained a searchlight.

We saw people scrambling onto the rocks. Bobbing in the water was a small speedboat. It turned out 30 souls had been crammed on board.

A human smuggler speeds away after dropping desperate refugees on the rocky hillside. Credit: Jason Florio

The smuggler didn’t hang about. He gunned his engines and headed for Turkish waters. His night’s work would have earned him around 30,000 euros.

MOAS Responder is a mothership from which one rescue launch was lowered into the water.

There are two such launches on board. They are called Alan and Ghalib after the boys who drowned off Turkey last summer. The image of Alan’s small body washed up on a Bodrum beach has become the defining picture of this crisis.

Among the refugees and migrants walking uphill from the shore was a one-legged man on crutches. Credit: ITV News

The crew of the launch went to make sure the refugees and migrants were okay and to arrange help for them on the small island on which they had been abandoned.

Among them was a one-legged man on crutches. It takes determination to go through the terror and indignities that are the lot of these people.