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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsGreece Denies Reports of Migrants Thrown into the Sea

Greece Denies Reports of Migrants Thrown into the Sea

Greece migrant pushbacks
Refugees on a boat. Many are lost at sea. Credit: Mstyslav Chernov / Wikimedia Commons

Greece rejected on Friday reports it had thrown migrants into the Aegean sea and instead has accused Turkey of deliberately spreading fake news.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis responded to a report by German news magazine Der Spiegel, Dutch investigative platform Lighthouse Reports, and the British daily newspaper The Guardian that alleged that in September 2021, Greek border guards took migrants, who had arrived on the Greek island of Samos from mainland Turkey, back onto boats and threw them overboard.

Two people were reported to have drowned during the event, though the exact nature of the incident remains unclear.

Mitarakis said reports that Greek border authorities threw migrants into the sea are part of a Turkish disinformation campaign.

“Turkey’s propaganda about illegal migration often leads to false stories appearing in the media,” Mitarakis stated, adding that independent investigations were still being carried out on the Greek side into the allegations.

He added that Greece is in charge of protecting the external borders of the European Union in the Aegean Sea, and that it does so in full compliance with international law.

“In the absence of any action by the Turkish authorities, the Greek coastguard continues to save the lives of thousands of men, women and children at sea every year,” Mitarakis said in a statement, claiming that Greece had rescued “230,000 people from third countries in danger at sea” from 2015 to 2021.

Reports of migrant pushbacks by Greece investigated

Earlier this month Greece also rejected accusations leveled by Turkey which accused Athens of causing at least 12 migrants to freeze to death at the border of the two countries on Evros.

Turkey’s interior minister, Suleyman Solyu, claimed that Greek guards were responsible for pushing the refugees away from the border into Turkey, where they died. The dead were part of a group of 22 people.

Last October the EU executive called for an investigation into alleged migrant pushbacks by Greece.

The announcement followed reports in the German media outlets Der Spiegel and ARD, according to which some of these operations reportedly turned violent as Greek special forces sometimes concealed their identities when pushing migrants back into the Aegean Sea.

“Some of these reports are shocking,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, adding she expects a thorough investigation into these incidents. These reports need to be investigated, she said and added that there seems to indications of orchestrated violence in Europe’s external borders.”

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