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Pusbacks Continues in Greece, Unchallenged by EU Commission

On September 1, we published about a sailboat carrying approximately 90 people, all from Afghanistan, that was drifting 35km south east of Koroni. Greek authorities claimed they didn’t find them, now we know the truth, they were found and illegally pushed back to Turkey by the Greek coast guard.

The smugler that had been driving the boat had abandoned them during the night, the boat was taking in water, people onboard needed to be rescued.

People onboard had called 112 and provided rescue services with their location, they were told to be patient..

From videos and pictures from the sailboat we can clearly see that the sailboat is dangerously overloaded, approximately 40 men, 30 women and 20 children are onboard.

Some of the men onboard was trying to fix the engine, but without proper tools and spear parts this was close to impossible.

The sailboat was drifting in a busy shipping lane, several ships had passed the drifting sailboat without any efforts to give assistance at sea.

The group expressed that they wanted to apply for asylum in Greece, and that they feared being sent back to Turkey, for then to be deported back to Afghanistan.

Aegean Boay Report can’t do much in cases like this, besides to document and publish their case. In this area Greek coast guard is the only alternative, and if they don’t want to perform the rescue, there exists no others Solution.

Aegean Boat Report also informed the Greek coast guard on this emergency, they reluctantly, and after some persuasion, registered the information, location, number of people and contact number.

The sailboat was drifting throughout the day, no attempts was done from the Greek coast guard to rescue the people in distress, even do they had been informed and given location several times.

Several commercial vessel had passed by the sailboat in the distance, if the Greek authorities had wanted to rescue them, it would not be difficult to find vessels close by to assist.

A Lambro 57 patrol vessel belonging to the Greek coast guard was spotted a few hundred meters from the boat, it stayed there for an hour before moving further away, so we knew that the Greek coast guard had located the boat, even do they claimed not to have found anything.

During the night the sailboat drifted further south east, Aegean Boat Report followed the sailboats movement until 23.00 pm, it then had drifted 30 km south east.

From the boat we received several videos taken outside in the dark, we can see lights in the distance, we assumed that some of these lights was from vessels from the Greek coast guard that was observed earlier that evening.

From a video taken inside the boat, they begged for help, unfortunately no such help arrived. “ The boat is broken, Greek coast guard came and circled around us, but refused to help us. There is about 100-120 people her, children and women, we need help. There is water inside the boat, we are going to drown, the waves are high and we need emergency help”. The number of people he was referring to was not correct, as far as we had been able to confirm there was 83 people onboard the sailboat.

The following day we made inquiries regarding the whereabouts of this group from the drifting sailboat. The Greek coast guard claimed that they found no sailboat in the area, nor any signs of a shipwreck. It’s very strange to claim that they had found no boat, when we have pictures of a vessel from the Hellenic coast guard a few hundred meters from the sailboat, there is no way they didn’t see them. Let’s just say that it’s quite obvious that the headquarters in Pireus was not telling the truth, so what reason did they have to lie, and what really happened to the people on the sailboat?

On September 2, at 16.00, Turkish coast guard found and rescued 83 people from four life rafts drifting outside Karaburun, Turkey, 81 From Afghanistan and 2 from Syria.

The Turkish coast guard had a few hours earlier, been informed by email, that a group of people were drifting in this area, the email came from the Greek coast guard. It is remarkable how the Greek coast guard new that people were drifting in this area, in Greek manufactured life rafts, if they were not responsible. Especially since we can prove, without a doubt, that the same group had been drifting in a sailboat close to Greek mainland the previous day, and that a vessel from the Greek coast guard was present.

Comparing pictures and videos taken on the sailboat outside Koroni, with pictures and video from when they were rescued by the Turkish coast guard, leaves no doubt, it’s the same group.

So the question is, how could this be possible, if this was not the handy-work of the Greek authorities? We have all seen the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Minister for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, time and time again, deny that Greek authorities are responsible.

In this case 83 people, men, women and children, were rescued by the Greek coast guard, transported not to a port of safety, but across the Aegean Sea, almost 600km, forced into four life rafts and left helplessly drifting at sea.

This shows that they are willing to go to great lengths, to deny refugees their right to apply for asylum. Greece are showing that they can continue this by all means possible, because Europe is doing nothing to interfere, crimes against humanity blessed by the European Commision.

There is only one possible conclusion, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is blatantly lying, not very reassuring when we are talking about a head of state. He’s not only lying to the Greek people, he is also lying to the European Commission, European and international leaders, international Organizations, the international press and religious leaders, he’s even lying to Pope Francis.

We call upon the international community, including the United Nations, European Union and individual nation states to stand against these shocking and reckless acts, and finally call the current Greek government to account for its disgraceful and illegal behaviour towards innocent men, women and children seeking safety from war, chaos and terror.

Push-backs are happening every single day in the Aegean Sea, and Greece will continue this inhuman practice, systematically violate people’s human rights, until Europe once again decides to put human rights back on the agenda. At the moment everyone is looking the other way, hoping that things will change, without their involvement, it won’t.. At the moment Europe is a disgrace, and embarrassment, against everything we once held highly, we seems to have lost our way, it will forever be a stain on history..

Since March 2020, more than 40,000 people have been pushed back in the Aegean Sea by Greek authorities, 850 life rafts have been found drifting, and numbers are rapidly increasing. So far this year, more than 300 rubber boats and close to 400 life rafts have been found drifting in the Aegean Sea, almost 15.000 people’s rights have been violated in just eight months.

At some point people in charge of this madnes must be held accountable for there actions, this needs to stop!

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