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Masked males, assault and abandonment: Migrants allege Greece is pushing them back again to sea


The heat glow of a brilliant orange lifestyle raft lights up the pitch black evening. A tiny hand opens the floating tent, revealing 11 folks who stare broad-eyed at an approaching Turkish coast guard rescue mission.

A younger female clutches a doll as she climbs out of the motorless boat onto the Turkish ship. The relaxation of the team are pulled up to the deck.

“You seriously really do not want to know what they’ve carried out to us,” claimed Fatima Dhaiwi, hunting in excess of at her two daughters huddled beneath blankets.

“Definitely, undoubtedly not heading all over again.”

Dhaiwi and the relaxation of the persons on the ship tell CNN that they were being compelled back to sea by “masked men” following they arrived on Greek shores. Other migrants have also instructed CNN in recent weeks that they were being pushed back from Greece, an accusation that Athens has frequently denied.

The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) has also sounded alarms about “an rising number of credible reports” of gentlemen, women and children currently being informally returned to Turkey immediately after arriving on Greek land or waters in new months.

Around 5,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in Greece considering the fact that the begin of March, in accordance to the UNHCR.

That determine marks “a precipitous fall from past several years. But, the range of noted pushbacks, significantly at sea, has been rising,” the company says. 

It has called on Greece to investigate the studies.

On September 13, a Turkish coastline guard ship granted access to CNN to observe search-and-rescue initiatives alongside the north Aegean Sea.

The area accounts for approximately 50% of all sea crossings for migrants and refugees in 2020, in accordance to the Turkish coastline guard.

Since late February, 6,600 migrants have been rescued at sea immediately after remaining pushed again by Greek forces, according to the Turkish coastline guard.

They have been discovered by the rescuers in “punctured plastic dinghies with motors rendered unusable or on unseaworthy life rafts,” the coastline guard said in a statement on September 14.

The 11 people taken onboard the prior working day are involved in that determine.

The Dhaiwi relatives set off for Turkey from disaster-ridden Lebanon 6 months back with hopes of shuttling as a result of Greece and eventually settling in Germany.

This was the family’s fifth endeavor at trying to find momentary refuge in Greece.

“They grabbed me from my neck and started out hitting me,” reported Dhaiwi, describing a confrontation on the Greek island of Lesbos in the north Aegean Sea approximately 12 hrs just after the spouse and children built landfall.

“They place a knife to my husband’s tummy and they held a gun to my son’s head.”

CNN are not able to confirm the identification or affiliation of the masked men.

Lesbos is dwelling to Europe’s major migrant camp, which before this month was ruined by a fire allegedly begun by migrants protesting inadequate dwelling situations and Covid-19 constraints in the settlement.

Saleh Dhaiwi retains up his hand, pointing at a wound he says was inflicted when he was shoved into the boat. The family associates explained currently being searched, and stated their income and telephones had been taken from them.

The Dhaiwis’ testimony is very similar to that of other individuals on the boat.

Ayat Abdi Ibrahim from Somalia mentioned a group of gentlemen rounded up the migrants, breaking her spectacles and confiscating her medicines.

“Even animals are not treated like this,” claimed Ibrahim.

“I didn’t want everything from them, no revenue, almost nothing, I just needed to get to my husband in any way attainable.”

Her husband has lived in Italy for 5 a long time. Soon after the remedy she been given on Lesbos, she claims, she will not try out to reunite with him all over again.

The Greek federal government defends its border policy, suggesting that the Turkish federal government has orchestrated media studies of pushbacks at sea as component of a disinformation campaign.

“Greece has every single correct as just about every sovereign state to protect its borders, we have a very hard but very reasonable border coverage,” Greek Primary Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis informed CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in August.

“These kinds of reports are also an insult to our coast guard. The Greek coastline guard has saved literally tens of thousands of refugees and migrants at sea.”

But the UNHCR claims it has collected several stories of pushbacks at its business office in Greece. The UN agency has known as for an immediate investigation into the alleged practices.

“Given the mother nature, written content, frequency, and consistency of these accounts, a right investigation should be introduced with out further hold off,” the UNHCR report reported.

In response to CNN’s queries about the alleged situations of the night of September 13, the Greek Migration Ministry mentioned it “always operates in complete respect to Intercontinental Law and European Polices.”

Nonetheless, the assertion did not acknowledge the incident as explained by the migrants and the Turkish coastline guard.

“We strongly deny any claims that the Hellenic Coastline Guard engages in illegal ‘pushbacks’ in the Aegean Sea, and we point out that the resource, as you mention, of these allegations is the Turkish Coast Guard,” the Greek migration ministry said in a assertion to CNN.

CNN has also been in near speak to with an Afghan migrant, at the moment residing in the Turkish coastal town of Izmir, who has attempted multiple crossings into Greece.

Hamid Fazli, 23, reported he attempted the sea crossing a few moments this calendar year with his relatives. In the course of two of all those attempts, he says, the Greek coast guard violently pushed them back again to Turkish waters

On May well 16, Fazli questioned for assist from absolutely everyone he realized, which include CNN.

After his rescue at sea, he sent online video of their daily life raft showing the Greek coastline guard in the length. CNN was in a position to match the online video filmed by Fazli to a Turkish coastline guard report published on May possibly 20 exhibiting the rescue of a vessel just after it was allegedly pushed again at sea whilst attempting to get to the island of Samos.

On August 16, Fazli, his spouse and 18-month-old son had been caught by Greek authorities after they arrived on Lesbos along with a group of Somali refugees, he stated.

They say they ended up searched and all their cash and possessions confiscated. All those who tried using to resist were being beaten up, he said.

They ended up told they would be taken into quarantine, but rather the group was moved onto a ship. They were then pushed on to a small raft and still left in the open up sea for many several hours before staying pulled out by the Turkish coast guard, according to Fazli.

“The drinking water was really lousy, a lot of waves, incredibly harmful and they do not see you are human,” stated Fazli.

“They do not give us just about anything (not) even a bottle of h2o for my toddler.”

CNN initially fulfilled Fazli and a group of Afghans in March close to the land border amongst Turkey and Greece. At the time, he said they arrived in Greece only to be captured, overwhelmed up and had their possessions removed. 

A number of migrants and refugees from Syria, Morocco, the Palestinian territories and Pakistan described equivalent incidents of violent pushback into Turkey at the land border.

Fazli stated he will not try to request refuge in Greece all over again.

“We are not seeking to go back because they sent us back like that previous time. I want we can go there, I wish they would accept us.”

Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the European Union of not fulfilling its obligations below a 2016 deal with his state aimed at stemming the circulation of migrants and refugees.

Turkey states it was remaining to shoulder most of the stress of web hosting additional than 3.5 million refugees on its very own.

Turkish authorities then loosened border limitations, a shift that the EU criticized, accusing Turkey of exploiting refugees and migrants for political leverage.

At the time, the Greek Primary Minister accused Turkey of “weaponizing the issue”.

But Greece’s alleged pushbacks are a violation of intercontinental legislation as perfectly as European laws, according to migration industry experts and rights groups.

“When you push again men and women at sea, you endanger them and you are not complying with the obligation to have asylum proceedings,” stated Nele Matz-Luck, a professor at Kiel University and co-director of the Walther Schucking Institute for Intercontinental Law.

“In the finish it may perhaps be that there is no specific right to refugee position, but in the minute, the pushback operation violates the provisions in worldwide legislation.”

Back again on the rescue boat, curled up in agony, Riham Sheim, a 27-year-aged Palestinian-Syrian from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, echoes the sentiments of her fellow migrants.

“This was my 1st and past try,” she stated.

To Sheim, who experienced created a perilous journey from Syria, only the European Union can provide the risk-free future she seeks. But now she has offered up.

“None of God’s nations around the world want us,” she explained.

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