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Home » The Human Element » Greece has been secretly abandoning migrants at sea to get rid of them

Greece has been secretly abandoning migrants at sea to get rid of them

FILE PHOTO: Thousands of migrants flocked to Edirne's Pazarkule border crossing and to the Aegean coast to Greece after Turkish officials announced the opening of borders, March 2, 2020. (AFP Photo)

PortandTerminal.com, August 15, 2020

ATHENS – The New York Times is reporting (paywall) that at least 1,072 migrants were sailed to the edge of Greece’s territorial waters on inflatable, sometimes rudderless, life rafts and abandoned by Greek authorities.

The Times analyzed evidence from multiple sources, including academic researchers, the Turkish Coast Guard, and independent watchdogs groups. They found that there were at least 31 different incidents of these expulsions in the past several months. 

Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher told The Times that on July 26, she and 22 others including babies were taken by masked Greek officials from a detention center on the island of Rhodes while it was dark outside. She told The Times they were left on a “rudderless, motorless life raft” and were later rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard. 

The Times analyzed evidence from multiple sources, including academic researchers, the Turkish Coast Guard, and independent watchdogs groups. They found that there were at least 31 different incidents of these expulsions in the past few months. 

Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher told The Times that on July 26, she and 22 others including babies were taken by masked Greek officials from a detention center on the island of Rhodes while it was dark outside. She told The Times they were left on a “rudderless, motorless life raft” and were later rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard. 

“These pushbacks are totally illegal in all their aspects, in international law and in European law,” François Crépeau, former United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and professor of law at the Faculty of Law at McGill University, told The Times. 

“It is a human rights and humanitarian disaster,” Crépeau said.

Greece has denied that they’ve done anything illegal. 

Greek authorities do not engage in clandestine activities,” said a government spokesman, Stelios Petsas. “Greece has a proven track record when it comes to observing international law, conventions, and protocols. This includes the treatment of refugees and migrants.”

Read the full story from the New York Times by clicking here (paywall)

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