Category: Pushback and Human Rights Violations
Number of people: 159 (60 children)
On 29 September 2020, we receive an emergency call from a relative who informs us about a group of 159 people, including 60 children, who were forced back and abandoned on an islet (N41.7015142, E 26.3753424) in the middle of the Evros/Meriç river and need immediate help.
The relative reports that the people were pushed back to this islet by what they interpreted as Greek Military and that the group had already tried to call the Turkish police, but they would not come for their rescue.
After several attempts, we are finally able to establish contact with the travellers on the islet, who confirm that they were pushed back by the Greek Military and that they cannot move from the islet, as they have many children and infants with them. They clarify that they are exhausted and that the children and infants need food.
At 10:25h CEST, we inform the respective authorities including the Regional Greek Police, Frontex and the UNHCR about the situation of the people on the island and ask them for an immediate rescue.
During the day of 29 September, we reach out to several state actors in the border region to ask them to rescue the people. On the phone with Ipsala Border Gate in Turkey, we get passed around in between officers. The call ends with one officer wishing us good luck, but no further assistance. At 12:03h CEST we also call the Turkish Coast Guard Command, who confirms to relay the information to the local police authorities.
Only at 21:33h CEST are we able to reach an officer in the Military Station in Edirne in Turkey, who confirms the rescue of a group of people who are reportedly being brought to the Immigration Office.
Later, one of the travellers states the following about the events that took place after the group had arrived on the Greek side of the Evros river: