Author: rsaegean.org | 20 May 2020
RSA and PRO ASYL are alarmed by and condemn the increase in recent months of reported push-back practices from Greek soil and territorial waters to Turkey, as well as reported dangerous and aggressive practices by the Greek Coast Guard seeking to deter refugee boats from reaching the Greek islands.
The Greek Coast Guard operates in the Aegean Sea for the purposes of sea border surveillance and search and rescue and is assisted by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in the framework of Operation Poseidon. NATO forces are also present and contribute to the operations.
RSA and PRO ASYL monitor developments in the sea area between Greece and Turkey. Since early 2020, RSA has received increasing allegations about push-backs of refugee boats by masked men and Greek Coast Guard vessels or aggressive deterrence tactics. The reports received refer to conduct including: Greek Coast Guard vessel manoeuvres in high-speed near refugee boats; confiscation of fuel and/or destruction of engines; pointing of guns at the individuals on board refugee boats; towing of the boats towards Turkey, leaving people adrift on often unseaworthy and overcrowded dinghies and putting their lives at risk. In some cases, the reports received referred to the following conduct: ramming of the refugee boats; firing of shots near the refugee boats or in the air.