November 28, 2023

Greek coastguards hit with new migrant pushback claim

4 min read

Tchinda reported the longed-for location of his dangerous Aegean crossing — the island of Kos — was now tantalisingly in perspective when Greek vessels halted the boat he was sailing in along with 30 other migrants.

“Initial a navy ship blocked our way, then it was joined by two scaled-down Zodiac-style boats,” the 39-calendar year-old from Cameroon explained to AFP.

“The coastguards were being armed and shouted at us to go property,” he explained in a sequence of telephone interviews executed among July 1 and 8.

A cellphone video shared by the Cameroonian with AFP demonstrates a packed dinghy immobilised by a Greek coastguard patrol boat, with 4 crew users checking the migrants.

A next patrol boat and a third vessel can be seen in the length.

“Continue to be down and keep relaxed, for your security,” a Greek coastguard, in a mask and gloves, suggests, holding a long pole.

Next to him, a female coastguard fingers a equipment gun.

But the migrants, most of them males carrying daily life jackets, are agitated.

“I am tired,” just one gentleman shouts back. “Pushback,” states one more.

Tchinda, who declined to give his past name, claimed he thought the guards “did not dare” to act violently in direction of the migrants simply because they observed them filming.

But, he mentioned, they built waves to push the dinghy back in direction of Turkish waters.

“Luckily no a single fell into the h2o but it could have been pretty harmful,” the Cameroonian added.

The Turkish coastguard confirmed in a June 11 published statement that it had picked up a boat the earlier day shortly right before 1:00 p.m. community time.

Facts on the variety of migrants on board, its locale and the time chimed with these explained by Tchinda.

The incident will come amid a sequence of media and NGO experiences in current months on the forced return of migrants from Greek territory or in Greece’s waters to Turkey.

– Pushbacks ‘de facto’ plan –

Amnesty Intercontinental claimed very last thirty day period that unlawful pushbacks of refugees and migrants to Turkey had turn into Greece’s “de facto” border coverage.

The Greek governing administration has continuously denied the accusations.

Involving January 2020 and March 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) documented around 300 reported incidents of unlawful expulsions all-around the Aegean islands and Greece’s northeastern Evros land border with Turkey.

A number of migrant aid groups, including the Greek Helsinki Monitor, in May possibly filed a complaint at the European Court of Justice in opposition to Frontex, the EU’s border monitoring agency.

The situation was primarily based on testimony from Ange, a youthful woman from Burundi, who explained she and a Congolese slight were being assaulted, robbed and detained on their arrival on the Greek island of Lesbos, then abandoned on rafts devoid of a motor, h2o or meals.

On July 6, Ange managed to arrive at Greece once more by disembarking on the island of Samos with about 20 other men and women, according to her lawyer Panayote Dimitras.

Just after having refuge in the woods for quite a few hours, Ange contacted her attorney who wrote to UNHCR as well as the neighborhood migrant camp and law enforcement to make certain that she would not be forcibly returned to Turkey yet again.

– ‘They were never here’ –

“Asylum seekers chance becoming returned to Turkey immediately after their arrest by the police, who hide them for a handful of hrs and faux that they have been under no circumstances on the island,” Dimitras advised AFP.

Greece has toughened its migration plan because conservative Primary Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived to electricity in 2019.

Border patrols have increased, asylum procedures have sped up — which critics say puts candidates at a drawback — and positive aspects have been slashed, even for refugees who are granted asylum.

Requested about the difficulty previously this thirty day period, Mitsotakis informed Kathimerini day-to-day: “I reject the principle of pushbacks… this term does not exist in my vocabulary.”

“But when we see a boat coming… we will do all the things in our electricity so that this boat returns to in which it established off from,” he extra.

“This is what we do, with full respect to human everyday living.”

“The Greek coastguard is not a reception company for refugees and migrants. They are there to guard our borders,” Mitsotakis mentioned.