21/10: 197 travellers pushed back to Turkey by the Greek coastguard

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 21st of October 2020</b>

<i>Case name</i>: 2020_10_21-AEG715

<i>Situation</i>: 197 people in distress near Crete pushed back to Turkey

<i>Status of WTM Investiga…

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 21st of October 2020</b> <i>Case name</i>: 2020_10_21-AEG715 <i>Situation</i>: 197 people in distress near Crete pushed back to Turkey <i>Status of WTM Investigation</i>: Concluded <i>Place of Incident</i>: Aegean Sea <i>Summary of the Case:</i> On Wednesday the 21st of October at 13.02h CEST the Alarm Phone shift team was contacted by a group of around 180 travellers as they told us, including many women and children. The travellers forwarded us their position and told us that they had set off from Turkey and were heading towards Italy. However, the weather had gotten bad with strong wind and rain, and their position showed that they were only 12 nm from the Greek island Crete. We therefore called the Greek coastguard at 13.12h CET and passed on the information we had. The travellers did not have any food, and neither did they have life vests for all the adults on the boat. Our shift team was continuously in contact with the travellers. When we spoke to the travellers at 14.18h CET, they told us that they had been called by the Greek coastguard who had instructed them not to attempt landing on Crete on their own but await rescue. An hour later the travellers reported that Greek authorities had been there and told the travellers to follow them. However, at 15.48h the travellers told us that they had been stopped by Greek authorities, and that they were "mad" at them. They were then told that they should wait and would be rescued at 21.00h. We therefore called the Greek coastguard to understand which efforts were being made to rescue the travellers. They confirmed to us that they were "controlling the situation" and would carry out a rescue operation, but refused to tell us when. At 18.41h the travellers informed us that two boats, which they assumed belonged to the Greek coastguard, were preventing them from landing on Crete by circling them. An hour later the Greek coastguard was still, according to the travellers, circling them and creating waves. At around 20.00h the travellers informed us that their engine was not working properly anymore, and that the situation on board was deteriorating with people threatening to jump overboard. Shortly after 20:00 CET, the Alarm Phone received a video from the people, showing an unknown vessel that had accosted the sailing boat. A man could be heard saying in Greek “Hey, guys” (“Ε, παιδιά”) seconds before a masked man was seen boarding the sailing boat, shouting to the people in English “Back everyb…”. Right after we received the videos, we lost all contact to the passengers. At 9.45h the following morning, we called the Greek coastguard again, but they did not want to give us any information. After trying the whole day to reach the travellers and understand the situation by talking to relatives, at 19.45h we called the Turkish coastguard. They informed us that they had been in contact with the Greek coastguard, but that the Greek coastguard had not shared any infomation with them either. At 8.50h the following morning, a relative sent us a video of people on a life raft. The relative told us that it was some of the 180 travellers who had been pushed back to Turkish waters near Marmaris on the life raft. They did not know what had happened to the rest of the group. According to the relative, the Greek coastguard had stolen the money, phones and papers of the travellers during the pushback. We found then on the website of the Turkish coastguard two incidents with two bigger groups found drifting in life-rafts which turned out to match with this case. It turned out that there had been 197 travellers on that boat and they had been separated in two groups and pushed back in 7 life-rafts. https://en.sg.gov.tr/76-irregular-migrants-were-rescued-off-the-coast-of-mugla https://en.sg.gov.tr/121-irregular-migrants-were-rescued-off-the-coast-of-mugla As the travellers told us later, the Hellenic Coast Guard had entered the boat, heavily beaten up several people, separated the passenger into two groups and pushed them back into Turkish waters in a journey that took 10 hours. Once in Turkish waters, they forced them into inflatable life-rafts, where the people had to wait until the Turkish Coast Guard picked them up. Several people had to be hospitalized due to the violence of the Greek officials. We published their testimony in a statement, because it was one of the hugest push-backs we have experienced. Statement: https://alarmphone.org/en/2020/11/27/197-people-pushed-back-to-turkey/ We are still looking into this, and will update this report with the result of our investigation. https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1319252282551291906

This post was originally published on Watch the Med.


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» 21/10: 197 travellers pushed back to Turkey by the Greek coastguard | Watch the Med | Refugee Watch | https://www.refugee.watch/2020/10/22/21-10-197-travellers-pushed-back-to-turkey-by-the-greek-coastguard/ | 2023-02-07T19:11:25+00:00
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