Category: Pushback and Human Rights Violations
Number of people: 12 (4 women, 3 children)
Around 12:00 CEST we receive information by a relative about a group of 12 people including 4 women, 5 men and 3 children, refugees from Syria, Iraq and Palestine. Shortly after the alert we are able to get in contact with them. We receive a GPS-location near Simi. The people report to be drifting in life-rafts in Turkish waters. This happened after being pushed back by a vessel of the Hellenic Coast Guard from Greek waters. When the travellers contact us, they are in a state of panic. We alert the Turkish coastguard who take them back to Turkey. Around 14:55 CEST we receive confirmation that the people have been rescued.
Some days later, we can talk to one of the passengers, who shares their story:
We are from Syria and on 8th October we were on our way to Greece. In the middle of the sea we saw a military ship. It was not too big, but also not small and it had a flag of the European Union and also another flag I cannot remember. The men on this ship had dark uniforms. They were watching us until the Greek coast guard came, then they left. The Greeks took us on board of their ship. Then they destroyed our boat. Then they started driving around with us. They did not go directly back towards Turkey, they were driving around a bit before. After a while they first took all women and children they put us on one boat (she does not find the word for life-raft) and they put this boat to the sea. The men they also took them and put them on another one, which was damaged and water was entering. Then they left us there and went back. We were full of fear and some people panicking. I had fear that we would all drown now, that we would die. We started then calling for help. We called the Turkish coastguard and we called also different NGOs. Finally the Turkish coastguard came and rescued us. We had to stay for 2 days in quarantine and then we were free again. Since then I tried to go two more times – because I have to find a place of safety.