Category: Pushback and Human Rights Violations
Number of people: 35 (15 women, 8 children)
On 22 June 2020, the Alarm Phone establishes contact with a boat in distress North of Lesvos. They tell us that they called the international emergency number 112, but that they refused to help them. We receive a position from the people in distress. They are in Greek waters.
We inform the Hellenic Coast Guard by email and by phone about the people at sea, and send the position of the boat. Despite evidence showing Hellenic Coast Guard vessels in vicinity, they deny being on scene and claim to not see the boat.
We receive a new position from the people in distress. They are still clearly in Greek waters. Again, we inform the Hellenic Coast Guard and ask why they are not rescuing the people. Shortly after, the people on the boat tell us that the Hellenic Coast Guard attacked them again. They reportedly were producing waves, pushing the boat towards Turkey and getting a lot of water in the boat. A dangerous manoeuvre that puts the people’s lives deliberately at risk.
FRONTEX, who were also informed about the people in distress, inform us by email that they forwarded all emails to the Frontex Situational Center. Despite being aware of the people in distress, Frontex did not undertake any action to rescue them.
The Turkish Coast Guard confirms to have an asset in vicinity. However, they say that the boat is clearly in Greek waters and that they cannot do anything unless the boat is forced back into Turkish waters.
The people say that water is still entering the boat and that they fear for their lives. They send us a photo with a vessel near them.
We receive a new position from the people, showing them in Turkish waters now. They seem to have drifted from Greek to Turkish waters due to the waves created by the Hellenic Coast Guard.
Despite Greek and Turkish authorities being on scene as well as Frontex, NATO, UNHCR and others being aware of the people in distress, the people have not been rescued until now. They reached out to the Alarm Phone over 8 hours ago.
The Turkish Coast Guard informs us that they rescued the group and that the 35 people will be brought to Ayvalık in Turkey.
For hours people were harassed and attacked by the Hellenic Coast Guard. Again, Frontex, who was informed from the very beginning and even confirmed to be aware of the situation, did not undertake a single step to prevent this violent pushback from happening. After being physically attacked at sea and scared, the people were pushed back into Turkish waters by dangerous manoeuvres.