According to statements posted by Hellenic Police and the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, the migrants were rescued on Greek territory, four kilometers away from the coordinates the group had initially shared in their communications and which Greek authorities have maintained were on Turkish territory.
The announcements put an end to the rescue mission that has been ongoing since August 7th, attracting international attention and public outcry.
The initial number of stranded individuals on the islet is unclear, as the group had reported there were thirty-nine to forty migrants in total. Greek authorities, however, confirm the presence of thirty-eight rescued individuals.
Η @hellenicpolice βρήκε σε ελληνικό έδαφος τους 38 μετανάστες, 4χλμ νοτιότερα της νησίδας στον #Εβρο, καθώς και μία βάρκα που τους μετέφερε. Είναι σε πολύ καλή κατάσταση, δηλώνουν Σύροι και η έγκυος μεταφέρεται προληπτικά στο νοσοκομείο.
— Νότης Μηταράκης – Notis Mitarachi (@nmitarakis) August 15, 2022
Dramatic rescue of migrants in Evros
The Hellenic Police said on Monday evening that “following new information and extensive investigations, a group of undocumented migrants—from Syria, as per their statement—consisting of 22 men, nine women and seven children, was tracked in the area of Lavara, Evros. One of the women is pregnant.”
The statement points out that the specific location where the migrants were spotted and rescued by Greek authorities is approximately four kilometers south from the coordinates outside Greek territory, which the migrants had shared as their position the previous week.
Since the moment the group was detected, the competent Forces of the Hellenic Police and other government services have rushed to their aid to treat the migrants, provide them with food and water, and transport them to a place of temporary accommodation.
Public broadcaster ERT said an investigation will be launched immediately in order to establish the time and the manner in which the group had crossed the Greek border.
Helpless on an islet on the border
According to an earlier report by Al Jazeera, the migrants are asylum seekers from Syria and say they were forced on the islet by Turkish authorities on August 7th after repeated alleged pushbacks between the two countries.
27-year-old Baida had been trying to notify refugees rights organizations and journalists for help since a child in their group died from a scorpion bite and at least one other child was in need of urgent medical help.
The UN Refugee Agency’s official account for media professionals on Saturday urged the authorities of both Greece and Turkey to do “everything possible to rescue the group immediately.”
The islet where the group of migrants said they were stranded on was not on Greek territory, the Hellenic Police Directorate had pointed out on Thursday and Sunday, adding that Turkish authorities at the Evros Trilateral Contact Center at Kapitan Andreevo had been notified twice to provide emergency help and evacuation to the group.
Minister Mitarachi wrote on Sunday afternoon on Twitter that repeated searches had been conducted by Greek authorities without detecting human presence on the islet.