Suspicious Greek coastguard accused of hurling migrants overboard

Witnesses have stated that the Greek coastguard threw nine migrants into the Mediterranean. 

These witnesses are said to be from NGOs, local media, and the Turkish coastguard. 

The nine are among more than 40 people alleged to have died as a result of being forced out of Greek territorial waters, or taken back out to sea after reaching Greek islands, says the BBC. 

The Greek coastguard told our investigation it strongly rejects all accusations of illegal activities.

The Greek government has long been accused of forced returns. 

In previous episodes, migrants said that authorities threw them into the sea, or placed onto inflatable rafts which either had no motors, deflated, or even appeared to have been punctured.

Human rights groups allege thousands of people seeking asylum in Europe have been illegally forced back from Greece to Turkey and denied the right to seek asylum. 

In June 2023, a trawler carrying 600-700 people flipped over before a Greek coast guard patrol boat, leading to the most significant loss of lives reported in such circumstances up to this point. 

Greece has not claimed responsibility for this. 

David Averre, Chief Foreign Reporter for the Daily Mail, provides the following context: 

“Turkey in 2016 inked a deal with the EU to stop migrants and refugees crossing into Greece in return for some €6 billion – later increased to €9 billion – to provide infrastructure and humanitarian aid to the migrants it accepted.

Under the deal, Turkish authorities would prevent migrants from trying to reach Greece and accept the return of those who did.

For every migrant Turkey took back from Greece, the EU would allow one Syrian refugee in Turkey who had their asylum request approved to be permitted entry into an EU state.

But in 2020 Ankara said the deal could no longer be enforced and began refusing to accept returns from Greece – a factor which may have contributed to the Greek coastguard’s alleged actions that resulted in migrant deaths.”

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