Adrift in uncertain waters: Migrant pushbacks in the Aegean

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Adrift in uncertain waters: Migrant pushbacks in the Aegean

politics.eu | 21 July 2021|

Adrift in uncertain waters: Migrant pushbacks in the Aegean

THE AEGEAN SEA, on board a Turkish Coast Guard Command patrol boat — It’s impossible to distinguish the water from the sky in the black depth of night. With a storm approaching, two little black boats filled with hopes and dreams, bobbing around, remain invisible in the darkness, until horrified faces emerge under the coast guard’s powerful light. An elderly woman looks like her life has just flashed before her eyes; the young children have that haunting thousand-yard stare.

This is how 20 people from Afghanistan were found — helplessly drifting without an engine, a light or life jackets, in two flimsy rubber life rafts in the northern Aegean waters. Thermal imaging had helped locate them after an email from the Hellenic Coast Guard of Greece was sent to the Turkish capital of Ankara, informing them about “two boats NOT UNDER COMMAND … with numerous persons on board” in Turkish waters, southeast of the island of Lesvos, Greece.

According to those on board, however, they had landed on Lesvos several hours prior and hidden in the forest before being caught by Greek authorities. The migrants said they were then taken back out to sea and put in the rafts, drifting just over the waves and into Turkish territorial waters.

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