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Greek opposition urges probe after BBC claims coastguard push-backs led to migrant deaths

June 18, 2024 at 7:41 pm

Greek officers of Hellenic Coast Guard are seen on a Greek Coast Guard boat following a rescue mission near the Greek island from Samos on 13 November 2019 [ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images]

Greece’s main opposition, SYRIZA party, on Tuesday called for an investigation after a BBC report allegedly that illegal Greek Coastguard push-backs in the Aegean Sea led to the death of many migrants, Anadolu Agency reports.

Speaking to the BBC, SYRIZA’s migration chief, Giorgos Psychogios, said, “We demand in-depth investigation, we demand answers, we demand accountability and the reason we do it is this.”

“We care about all human life, and we cannot get used to the loss of human life,” he added.

On Monday, a BBC investigation said that a total of 43 people died in 15 separate incidents linked to the actions of the Greek Coastguard over a three-year period.

The accusations stem from practices where migrants were forced out of Greek territorial waters (push-backs) or returned to the sea after reaching Greek islands.

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The primary sources for these allegations include local media reports, non-governmental organisations, and the Coastguard in neighbouring Turkiye.

Footage obtained during the investigation shows 12 people being loaded onto a Greek Coastguard boat and subsequently abandoned on a dinghy.

The Greek government has faced long-standing accusations from NGOs, governments and international watchdogs of engaging in forced returns, often pushing migrants – including women and children – back towards Turkiye, where they initially crossed from.

Such actions are illegal under international law. Despite these accusations, the Greek Coastguard has firmly denied any involvement in illegal activities.

This BBC investigation marks the first time the number of fatal incidents allegedly involving the Greek Coast Guard has been calculated.​​​​​​​

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