Greece Is Accused of Illegal Pushback Against Asylum Seekers at Sea

Greek police officers have returned several asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos to the Turkish Sea after confiscating their documents, money and mobile phones.

Turkish coast guard officials described the latest move by Greek authorities as a “clear case of illegal pushbacks”.

This is not the first time that the governments of the two countries have leveled accusations at each other regarding the constantly growing number of asylum seekers that both countries are registering.

Thousands of migrants are constantly trying to reach European countries by crossing the sea from Turkey to the Greek islands, TheSchengen.com reports.

Last year, authorities in Greece accused Turkey of sponsoring several migrants to the Greek border after it claimed that satellite images showed an influx of migrants heading to the border.

At the time, a Greek government spokesperson confirmed that thousands of people were spotted by satellites as they were being transferred to the Greek border from inside Turkey.

Both countries have continually tried to find new ways to deal with the growing number of immigrants since the collapse of a mutual agreement last year.

Since the 2015 migrant crisis, Europe’s border with Asia at the Turkish border has been the main entry point into the European Union for many people who have attempted to enter European countries.

More than a year ago, the authorities in Turkey turned a blind eye to the migrants, allowing them to cross the sea to reach Greece.

On the other hand, Greece also deports all the people who seek international protection in the latter who have reached its islands, and withdraws them to Turkish waters.

Many European organizations and officials have consistently denounced such disabilities, which are considered violations by international law of basic European values.

But the authorities in Greece denied such accusations.

Several cases have been investigated in this regard, including by the European Union authorities. Last week, Greece’s Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarashi, stressed that “the reports have not found any evidence of any violation of the EU’s fundamental rights”.

The head of the United Nations refugee agency in Turkey, Philippe Leclerc, said his office had submitted evidence, including “tales of violence and family separation” to the Greek ombudsman, requesting that the cases be investigated, without result.

Previously, the Greek government announced that it would allow secondary movement of migrants, allowing them to travel through EU member states freely.

Secondary movement means that migrants are allowed to continue traveling to other EU countries after initially arriving in another country, which for migrants coming to the EU is often Greece.

In addition, the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, previously provided support to Lithuania in order to combat migration issues at the external borders with Belarus, as the latter receives an increasing number of immigrants from Belarus.

More than 11,100 people tried to reach European countries illegally through their external borders last month, which is a 69 percent increase over the same period from the previous year’s figures, based on the latest report from the European Union’s border protection agency Frontex.

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Source: schengenvisainfo.com

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