EU authorities urge Greece to investigate reports of asylum-seeker pushbacks

Athens — Greek authorities have promised to open a new immigration center on Lesvos in time, so Greece “can do more” to investigate reports of pushing asylum seekers back to Turkey on March 29. Stated. In winter.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported several reports suggesting that asylum-seekers may have been pushed back to Turkey shortly after reaching sea or Greek soil, or immediately after drifting to sea. He said he was increasing in months.

Greek authorities have always refused to report.

“There are some specific cases where we are very concerned about UNHCR’s report and need to investigate further,” said EU Interior Commissioner Ilva Johansson during his visit to Lesvos. ..

“I think the Greek authorities can do much more when it comes to investigating the backlash of these allegations.”

Greek Immigration Minister Notis Mitarachi said in a press conference with Johansson that Greece is in compliance with European and international law.

“We strongly deny that the Greek Coast Guard has been involved in pushback so far,” he said, adding that independent investigations, including those by the Greek judiciary and the EU border agency Frontex, did not find any breaches. It was.

Other front-line states, including Greece and Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Malta, have repeated more coordinated immigration policies from the EU and more support from other EU countries in handling the arrival of immigrants. I asked for it.

Mitarachi said the new migrant reception center on Lesbos would replace the vast Moria camp that burned down in 2020 to accommodate thousands of migrants who would live in filth in temporary locations by winter. Said it should be opened in.

Greece, especially Lesvos, was at the forefront of the European migrant crisis in 2015, with nearly a million people, mostly Syrian, fleeing the war and arriving by boat from Turkey.

According to UN data, that number has dropped dramatically since the EU signed an agreement with Ankara a year later, with just over 16,000 people arriving in Greece in 2020.

Currently, about 14,000 migrants are in camps on five islands, down from about 42,000 in 2019, according to Mitarachi. Camps across Greece have about 58,000 people, down from 92,000 in 2019.

By Karolina Tagaris