'We were left in the sea': asylum seekers forced off Lesbos

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Friday, March 19, 2021
'We were left in the sea': asylum seekers forced off Lesbos

The Guardian | 19 March 2021 |

One refugee’s terrifying story illustrates how ‘pushbacks’ are creating a crisis for the right to asylum at Europe’s borders

“We were all forced on to the boat. If we looked up they shouted at us and hit us in the head. Then they stopped at a place in the sea where there were no other boats, they left us.”

Mustafa, his wife and two young children had only been on the Greek island of Lesbos a few hours when, they say, they were driven in a van to the coast, beaten by masked men and then taken out to sea on a raft and abandoned there.

Their story is one of many and lies at the heart of what rights groups, the UN and the EU are warning is a crisis for the right to asylum at Europe’s borders – with “pushbacks” so persistent and severe they are leading to a huge drop in arrivals across the sea into Greece.

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