rsaegean.org | 24 February 2022
DEATHS AT THE BORDERS
A pressing need for appropriate protocols for refugee and migrant shipwrecks
Until recently, the bodies of missing refugees and migrants were found scattered all over the Aegean Sea, two months after the tragic shipwrecks in Paros, Folegandros and Antikythera. The survivors – relatives and companions of these people who are anxiously searching for clues about their fate, instead of receiving the necessary psychosocial care under dignified reception conditions, were taken to the Pre-removal Detention Centre (PROKEKA) in Amygdaleza where they remained in administrative detention for more than a month. The recent shipwrecks have once again highlighted the huge shortcomings in the information, support and care of survivors, in the coordination of the management of shipwreck victims such as the protocol for the search and identification of the missing and dead respectively and the referral to an appropriate reception facility.
Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) legally represents three families rescued from the shipwrecks in Antikythera and Paros who have lost relatives. Despite the shock and the overwhelming mental state these persons do not seem to have received psychological first aid. They were transferred from the islands to the PROKEKA of Amygdaleza almost immediately after the tragic events. Initially, sources at the Ministry of Migration and Asylum said that the shipwreck victims would be transferred there for registration and that they would be taken to reception facilities within two or three days. Eventually they stayed in administrative detention until the beginning of February.
During this period of detention, they had insufficient access to telephones in order to contact relatives and services related to the identification of the bodies or the tracing of their relatives. They also did not have psychological support. They were held in very difficult conditions, under poor hygiene, without adequate clothing and heating, and without medical care. The communication with their lawyers was also difficult, as it took place in the presence of police officers and under time pressure. The detention conditions further aggravated their mental health state.