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<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 23nd of December 2020</b> <i>Case name</i>: 2020_12_23-AEG739 <i>Situation</i>: Attack and pushback by the Greek Coastguard near Lesvos <i>Status of WTM Investigation</i>: Ongoing <i>Place of Incident</i>: Aegean Sea <i>Summary of the Case:</i> At 00:50h CET on 23 December we were informed of an ongoing attack by what the travellers identified as a ship of the Greek Coastguard on a boat that was very close to Lesvos. The boat was carrying 30 people including four or five children and some pregnant women. We were forwarded a position. About 40 minutes later we were forwarded a voice note of the travelers describing their ongoing situation. They had been attacked, their fuel had been taken, their motor destroyed and their rubber boat punctured. They said the attackers had been pulling the boat round and round in circles. We informed the Greek coastguard of the distress situation, copying in Frontex, and the Greek ombudsman. The hope was that alerting the authorities to our knowledge of the situation could prevent further abuse. A phone call to JRCC Piraeus led to nothing more than a “we will investigate”. Shortly after 08:00h the next morning, Frontex acknowledged receipt of our email and promised to forward the details to the coastguard. We were unable to reach the travelers directly. Shortly after midday 24 December, we contacted the Turkish Coastguard. They told us that their patrol boat had observed the Greek coastguard bringing the group to Lesvos. The total lack of information from the Greek coastguard led us to put out the following <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1341718673426436108” target= “_blank”>tweet</a> shortly after 13:00h ++ Distress case in the #Aegean ++ Last night we were alerted to a boat in distress off #Lesvos. #Turkish authorities just informed us on the phone that the 30 people were brought to #Greece by a Greek vessel. @HCoastGuard, where did you transfer these people to? We also sent an email to the Greek coastguard and phoned Piraeus. When that received no response, we rang them at 15:34h. They were unable or unwilling to tell us where the people were, but told us that they were searching for the boat. When we phoned again at 16:50h, we were told that they had no incident the area. We doublechecked the information with the Turkish Coastguard and they confirmed what they had told us earlier. We put out the following <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1341844620058222595” target= “_blank”>tweet</a>: How can 30 people just disappear? The chief officer of the #Turkish Coast Guard confirmed that their assets in the area observed a #Greek vessel evacuating the migrant boat at 03:42 this morning. And yet, @HCoastGuard denies that they have found the group. Where are they? In the early hours of the morning of 24 December, we began to hear rumours that the group were back in Turkey. This was confirmed by the Turkish coastguard at 12:10h. We put out a final <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1342133703988940801” target= “_blank”>tweet</a> ++ Another illegal #pushback in the #Aegean ++ The Turkish Coastguard confirmed to us that the 30 people in distress were returned to Turkey. Also several other boats were reportedly pushed back by @HCoastGuard over the last days. This violent practice has to stop! If we find any updates, we will include them in this report.
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» 23/12: Attack and pushback by the Greek Coastguard near Lesvos | Watch the Med | Refugee Watch | https://www.refugee.watch/2020/12/24/23-12-attack-and-pushback-by-the-greek-coastguard-near-lesvos/ | 2022-05-21T05:53:32+00:00