Is Greece Nonetheless a gateway to Europe? The Migrants now Accuse Greece of Throwing them Again out to the Sea

Is Greece Nonetheless a gateway to Europe? The Migrants now Accuse Greece of Throwing them Again out to The sea
Is Greece Nonetheless a gateway to Europe? The Migrants now Accuse Greece of Throwing them Again out to The sea

Within the early hours of a Sunday in late November, 16-year-old Jeancy Kimbenga tried to succeed in Europe for the 3rd time. He was certainly one of three dinghies that landed on the Greek island of Lesbos that day from Turkey.

On that event, along with his two earlier attempts, Jeanty claims he was forcibly returned to Turkish waters.

So-called pushbacks, without consideration of a migrant’s particular personal circumstances and with none chance of making use of for asylum, are unlawful below worldwide human rights legislation.

Greece has denied using such strategies, insisting it’s complying with European and worldwide legislation and defending the borders of the European Union.

Throughout this third try and get to the EU, Jeanty, who’s initially from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, documenting a part of his journey within the hope that the proof of him being on Greek soil would forestall him being despatched again to Turkey.

It was nonetheless darkish when the three boats landed on the southeast tip of Lesbos, often known as Kratigos, on 29 November.

The brand new arrivals gathered in a forest close by and waited for daybreak, sending photographs and their GPS location to Aegean Boat Report, a Norwegian NGO that screens migrant flows within the space.

Hours later, native tutorial Kostas Theodorou was biking along with his spouse within the space after they bumped into two girls who claimed they had been migrants who had arrived on the island several hours earlier. The ladies mentioned they have been each Christian, pregnant, and had not eaten for 3 days.

“They mentioned they wished to go to the hospital or the migrant camp. My spouse left to get some money so that we can put them in a taxi,” mentioned Mr. Theodorou, an assistant professor at the College of the Aegean. However, when he instructed calling the police, the ladies feared their passage to Europe would come to an abrupt finish.

The migrant teams then left the forest and headed north, taking additional photographs of the locations they handed. Aegean Boat Report revealed their whereabouts on Fb and contacted Greek authorities.

Several spots captured by the brand new arrivals have been verified utilizing satellite tv for pc photographs on Google Avenue View.

Jeancy Kimbenga and the others have been met by a staff of Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) officers and placed on a bus. They have been advised they might be taken to a particular camp for quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the least two coast guard quantity plates and one officer are seen within the footage the BBC has acquired from the scene.

Jeancy says what they adopted deeply traumatized him. The bus drove for a few hours to the north of the island and stopped at a small port where males in balaclavas were ready. {The teenager} recorded a video on his cellular contained in the bus.

“They dressed up like ninja[s], they wish to make us get on a ship and ship us again to Turkey,” he’s heard saying.

The boy alleges that the Greek officers then took everybody’s telephone, beat them closely, and compelled them on “an enormous coast guard boat with one thing like a cannon within the entrance aspect” that took them out to sea.

There they have been compelled into life rafts and have been left to float in the direction of Turkish territorial waters, he mentioned. However, it isn’t clear why solely two of the three teams that arrived in Lesbos that Sunday morning has been despatched again.

Lower than three hours later, a second raft with 18 migrants was rescued in the identical space. A person with a fluorescent print on his sweater, pictured within the forest in Lesbos the earlier morning, is seen leaving the Turkish Coast Guard boat.

Dozens of comparable incidents have been reported in current months, and NGO Aegean Boat Report alleges that at the beginning of the yr Greek authorities have carried out near 300 pushbacks. Turkey accuses its neighbor of adopting the following too.

Is Greece nonetheless a gateway to Europe?

Nevertheless, Greece insists it “doesn’t take part in so-referred to as pushbacks,” and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has condemned the allegations as “an insult to the Hellenic Coast Guard.” As an alternative, the nation blames Turkey.

Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi advised the BBC that Turkey’s duty was to remove smuggling routes and “defend human life at sea by stopping unseaworthy boats to go away Turkish soil.”

Earlier than they left Lesbos the migrants took footage of the Hellenic Coast Guard vehicles

Turkey signed a cope with the EU in 2016 to cease migrants and refugees crossing into Greece. However, it mentioned this yr it may not implement it.

It isn’t simply Greece within the eye of the storm but also the EU’s Border Company, Frontex, which helps Greece guard the bloc’s maritime borders.

It has now been accused of serving to or turning a blind eye to pushbacks within the Aegean Sea, and the most recent allegations have sparked one of many largest crises since its creation.

Solely final month, at a Frontex assembly on pushbacks, the Swedish consultant introduced proof of Swedish officers witnessing one-off Chios’s island.

An inside Frontex report, seen by the BBC, describes several Severe Incident Stories (SIR), itemizing suspected irregularities or rights violations. One of the detailed accounts – labeled SIR 11095/2020 – tells of an incident that occurred on the evening of 18-19 April 2020; it says a Frontex aircraft witnessed a pushback and that Greek authorities urged Frontex to fly elsewhere.

Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri, grilled by Members of the EU Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee on the finish of November, mentioned no proof had been discovered of “energetic, direct or oblique” Frontex involvement in pushbacks. Solely the host member state (Greece) may determine what needed to be finished, he added.

Some MEPs supported the work of Frontex. However, one group, the Socialists and Democrats, referred to as Mr. Leggeri’s resignation. Dutch Inexperienced Left MEP Tineke Strik advised “Leggeri is just not credible any extra.” She desires an inquiry committee to analyze “human rights violations on the exterior border.”

The European Company for Elementary Rights (FRA) has additionally accused Greece of finishing up pushbacks at its land border with Turkey. An October 2020 report cited incidents on the Evros River in 2018, in addition to allegations of bodily ailing remedy by police, border guards, or paramilitary teams.

In the meantime, the Athens authorities have praised the work of its coast guard and highlighted the 80% discount of migrant arrivals this yr. It has struggled to deal with the 1000’s of migrants and refugees who’ve made it to Lesbos.

Williams Brandon
Brandon Williams is a 57-year-old semi-professional sports person who enjoys stealing candy from babies, chess, and watching YouTube videos. You can reach Brandon at [email protected]