the guardian.com | 17 February 2022
‘It’s an atrocity against humankind’: Greek pushback blamed for double drowning
In 15 September 2021, Sidy Keita from Ivory Coast and Didier Martial Kouamou Nana from Cameroon, boarded a dinghy from Turkey to Greece. Despite making it to the Greek island of Samos, their bodies were found days later, washed ashore in Aydin province, on the Aegean coast.
Interviews with more than a dozen witnesses, analysis of classified documents, satellite imagery, social media accounts and online material, and discussions with officials in Turkey and Greece, have helped piece together what happened over five September days during which the two men died, likely victims of a pushback by the Greek authorities.
What happened to these men, who left their homes to escape political oppression and for a better life overseas, has been investigated by the Guardian, Lighthouse Reports, Mediapart and Der Spiegel.
The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has frequently denied that pushbacks occur. But there is mounting evidence that would-be asylum seekers are being illegally removed from Greek territory before having the chance to lodge asylum applications.
Keita, 36, left Ivory Coast after taking part in protests against president Alassane Ouattara. He arrived in Turkey in March 2020. Kouamou, 33, a mechanic in Cameroon, landed in Turkey last year, hoping to join his brother who had been living in France since 2014.
Like many before them, both men went to the Basmane district of Izmir, a known spot for people who want to be smuggled into Europe. They were among 36 who then boarded a dinghy from near Kusadasi on the Turkish coast in the early hours of 15 September.