27/12: 20 people stranded in Greece, pushback over the Evros river

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 27th of December 2020</b>
<i>Case name</i>: 2020_12_27-AEG741
<i>Situation</i>: 20 people stranded on the Greek side Evros river, beaten and pushed back to Turkey
<i&g…

<b>Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 27th of December 2020</b> <i>Case name</i>: 2020_12_27-AEG741 <i>Situation</i>: 20 people stranded on the Greek side Evros river, beaten and pushed back to Turkey <i>Status of WTM Investigation</i>: Concluded <i>Place of Incident</i>: Aegean Sea <i>Summary of the Case:</i> In the evening of 27 December, we were alerted to a group of 20 people stranded on the Greek side of the Greek-Turkey land border by a relative of somebody in the group. They told us that other people were missing and at least one person had died. Some people in the group were injured. We were unable to reach the group directly, but we explained that the group could phone 112 if they needed medical assistance. We then tried to contact the police in Soufli but they either hung up or did not answer the phone. We send the details by email, copying in the UNHCR and Frontex. We also decided to make the case public and we put out the following <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1343280989943046144” target= “_blank”>tweet</a>: ++ Distress call in the Evros region ++ A group of 20 people is calling for help - it seems that at least one person is injured. They are stuck near the Greek village of Soufli. We informed local authorities as well as @UNHCR and @Frontex We were able to reach the police at 22:05h. They were confused but asked us to phone back in 10 minutes. When we did, they assured us that despite the heavy rain, they were looking for the people and they asked us to phone in a few hours time for updates. We were finally able to reconnect with the police just before 02:00h on 28 December. They had no news. Nor did they have news at around 07:00h in the morning. At 12:41h, the authorities told us that they had sent trackers but found no trace of the people. We put out another <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1343548286406430721” target= “_blank”>tweet</a>: 18 hours since we informed authorities about the critical situation of the 20 people in Evros/Meriç region, and there is still no news about their fate. The Border Guards in Soufli told us that they have been searching the area but have not found them yet. Where are they? Our next phone call to the police just before 17:00h made it seem as if the police had been looking in the wrong area, despite us having passed on the coordinates on a number of occasions. The Soulfi police now claimed that it was the responsibility of the Didymoteicho station. We got in touch with Didymoteicho by phone and email. They were very friendly to us and promised to send a patrol to look. Nevertheless, we were not able to get any positive information throughout the night. The next morning the relative got in touch again to explain that the group had been beaten by the Greek border patrol and pushed back to Turkey. The contact person also sent a video and photographs of the group showing the after-effects of the attack. We put out the following <a href= “https://twitter.com/alarm_phone/status/1343845867787268096”target= “_blank”>tweet</a>: Another violent pushback in the #Evros region. We just learned that this group has been horribly beaten & violently pushed back to #Turkey by #Greek borderguards. In total, ~70 people were pushed back over the Evros river. These systematic attacks have to end!

This post was originally published on Watch the Med.


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