Report accuses Greece of brutally rebuffing migrants at the Aegean sea

Greece pushed back nearly 42,000 asylum seekers since 2020

Refugees and migrants aboard an inflatable boat arrive on the Greek island of Lesvos on March 2, 2020. (AFP)

Greece has pushed back nearly 42,000 asylum seekers since 2020, according to a new report published by Turkish authorities.

Türkiye’s Ombudsman Institution prepared the report, titled “Pushbacks and Drowning Human Rights in the Aegean Sea,” exposing the violation of international immigration law by Greece.

According to the data from the Directorate of Migration Management that the report used, Greek forces pushed back a total of 41,523 asylum seekers between 2020 and May 31, 2022.

“The pushbacks in themselves are against international law, and many of the pushback practices are accompanied by grave rights violations,” the report said.

Noting that 98% of the pushbacks involved torture and ill-treatment, it said 88% of the 8,000 asylum seekers who came to the Greek border were beaten.

It added that 97% of them suffered theft, 5% sexual assault, and 8% electric shock, while 49% were forced to undress and 16% drowned.

Of the children among them, 68% were exposed to or witnessed violence and abuse, stressed the report.

As a result of these practices in land pushbacks, 53 asylum seekers died last year, including 33 who froze to death and drowned in the Meric River, which forms the border between Greece and Türkiye.

The report also revealed that in Greece’s pushback practices at sea, asylum seekers were thrown overboard, sometimes with their hands cuffed behind their backs and sometimes without life jackets.

This led to the deaths of eight irregular migrants last year, along with three in 2022 as of May 31.

These numbers are merely the tip of the iceberg, since authorities prevented asylum seekers from seeking their rights, accessing complaint mechanisms, and reporting violations, it said.

“It has been demonstrated by concrete evidence that Frontex (EU Border and Coast Guard Agency) participated in these actions by Greece, supported many actions, and condoned many of them,” it added.

Türkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

Türkiye has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Already hosting 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, Türkiye is taking new security measures at its borders to humanely prevent a new influx of migrants.

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