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Frontex speaks out after claims Greece pushing refugee boats back to Turkiye

August 31, 2022 at 2:38 pm

Migrants are seen on board on October 2, 2019 [ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images]

The official in charge of human rights at Frontex has told the Guardian that Athens needs “enhanced monitoring” following several allegations that asylum seekers are being pushed back from Greece and into Turkiye.

“It has been clear to me that Greece is one of the countries that needs enhanced monitoring,” Jonas Gremheden said.

“I think that what is missing now from my side, is increasing the pressure, increasing the concreteness of what I think should be done in order to prevent violations.”

Several human rights organisations have in fact accused Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, of being complicit in these push backs which have seen Greek authorities cast asylum seekers adrift in the sea without life jackets to prevent them entering and seeking asylum there.

At the beginning of this year, the bodies of 19 refugees were found without clothes, shoes or belongings after freezing to death near the Greece-Turkiye border. Ankara accused Athens of pushing them back across the border.

READ: 2 Egyptians dead, 19 missing after boat capsizes in Mediterranean Sea

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Frontex has repeatedly failed to take action when allegations of human rights violations taking place on EU borders are presented to them.

The rights watchdog went a step further and said that since October 2020 there is evidence to show Frontex played a major role in concealing and supporting push backs along Turkiye’s border.

In April a joint investigation by Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, SRF Rundschau, Republik and Le Monde found that Frontex was involved in the push back of some 957 asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea between March 2020 and September 2021.

A Syrian man, Alaa Hamoudi, is suing Frontex after Greek authorities put him and 20 other asylum seekers in an inflatable boat and cast them adrift in the Aegean Sea. They spent 17 hours at sea with little food and water before Greek authorities attempted to push their inflatable dinghy even further towards Turkiye, until a Turkish coast guard rescued them.

It was later established that a Frontex plane flew overhead throughout yet did not intervene and rescue them.

In 2016 a Syrian family was deported to Turkiye by Frontex even though they had claimed asylum in Greece. The family went on to take the EU border agency to the European Court of Justice.

Irregular migrants pushed back by Greece - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Irregular migrants pushed back by Greece – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]