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Charity says migrant testimonies level to a recurring apply of unlawful deportations from Greece

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ATHENS, Greece — A number one worldwide medical charity alleged Thursday that testimony from dozens of migrants over the previous two years factors to a “recurring apply” of secret, unlawful and sometimes brutal deportations again to Turkey from two jap Greek islands.

Medical doctors With out Borders stated in a brand new report that the accounts it collected stated the compelled returns had been carried out by uniformed officers or unknown masked people. It didn’t seek advice from the nationality of the officers talked about within the accounts.

The report follows prices by charities, activists and Turkish authorities, who alleged comparable actions within the Aegean Sea and at Greece‘s northeastern land border with Turkey.

Athens has strongly denied such so-called “pushbacks,” and argues that its coast guard has saved lots of of hundreds of migrants from the Center East and Africa who tried to achieve Greece by crossing in small boats from Turkey.

Greece says it wants to guard its borders, that are additionally these of the European Union, from mass unlawful immigration. In March 2020, Turkey opened its borders into the EU and actively inspired migrants to cross into Greece.

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Medical doctors With out Borders, which can also be identified by its French abbreviation MSF, stated Thursday that in a single case, migrants reported to its workers that two folks — together with a pregnant lady — allegedly died off the island of Samos when their boat was towed at excessive pace towards Turkish waters.

“As a medical and humanitarian group, we couldn’t keep silent within the face of the distinctive scale and severity of the violence reported to our groups” on Samos and the island of Lesbos, the humanitarian group stated. It added that “non-assistance (to migrants), violence and pushbacks have turn out to be half and parcel of a system of border administration” on the 2 islands.

Lesbos and Samos, each key touchdown factors for migrants arriving from Turkey, are the one Greek islands the place Medical doctors With out Borders is lively.

Because of this, in accordance with the group’s report, migrants are turning to different, longer voyages that pose a higher danger of hardship or demise. There was a rise in recent times of yachts filled with migrants leaving Turkey and rounding southern Greece to go for Italy.

Medical doctors With out Borders stated its report drew from accounts by migrants between Aug. 2021 and July 2023. It did not cite any first-hand commentary of pushbacks by its personal groups, however stated that they had met indications of violence in opposition to newly arrived migrants.

It added that the discrepancy between the greater than 10,000 arrivals reported to MSF over the two-year interval and the almost 8,000 folks truly discovered “point out(s) that folks unaccounted for by MSF … could have been forcibly returned to Turkey.”

The group stated it held nameless interviews with 56 individuals who claimed to have suffered unlawful deportations. A complete of 183 pushbacks had been reported, with 9 folks claiming to have fallen sufferer to the apply between eight and 14 instances.

The report stated that whereas some allegations involved boats being stopped at sea and towed again to Turkish waters, others stated that individuals who had reached Lesbos and Samos had been rounded up earlier than they might declare asylum, mistreated after which dumped offshore on inflatable life rafts.

“From land, testimonies level to a sample of practices together with bodily assault, handcuffing, casual detention, teams being forcibly taken to the shore earlier than being pushed again at sea, in addition to humiliating strip searches,” it stated. The perpetrators had been described as “teams of unidentified folks with lined faces” who typically stole migrants’ telephones, cash and different possessions.

“MSF has witnessed folks operating out of the forest screaming, crying and reporting being overwhelmed, and MSF medical workers have handled folks on the spot for suspected violence-related accidents,” it stated.

In two {cases}, it stated its staff discovered individuals who stated that they had been handcuffed with zip ties by masked males who ran away once they heard the group’s groups approaching.

“Regardless of in depth and credible proof,” Greece and authorities “have failed to carry to account the perpetrators of those violations,” the report states.

In June, the EU border company requested Athens to supply “clarifications and data” on two reported pushback allegations.


Observe AP’s world migration protection at https://apnews.com/hub/migration


This story has been corrected to replicate that the Medical doctors With out Borders report didn’t seek advice from the nationality of the officers talked about within the accounts.

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