Apparently no evidence found
After four months of independent investigation, the Greek National Authority for Transparency has rejected any allegations of illegal push backs of asylum seekers trying to reach the country. The reports of Lighthouse and a wide consortium of European media, who analysed over 600 videos last year, made headlines internationally. They identified masked men in action pushing people on small boats back into international waters. The allegations were picked up by the UN and the EU council, who demanded a halt to this illegal practice. The “independent” Greek body, however, has found no evidence of all of this now.
Six years of the EU-Turkey Deal
March 2022 marked six years of the existence of the questionable EU-Turkey Deal. It is fair to say that this deal, which undermines human rights and certainly disrespects human dignity, has never been and won’t ever be a success. The agreement enables sending people who arrive to the Aegean islands through irregular pathways back to Turkey. In return, the EU promised to pay Turkey 6 billion by 2018, and to speed up its accession process to the Union. Neither of these two promises have been fulfilled. However, one of the clearest outcomes of the deal so far is that it compromises the protection of refugees and other people in need, preventing them from seeking asylum in a safe country. Moreover, the deal highlights how afraid Europe is of migration, allowing Turkey to instrumentalize people on the move to set the EU under political pressure, as we have witnessed in the past.
Ukrainian Refugees in Greece
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, more than 10,000 Ukranians have entered Greece. They have been welcomed by the locals, and European agreements allow them to stay, apply for jobs and benefit from the national health service. At the same time, illegal deportations, basic needs not met or an absence of integration efforts remains the sad reality for many refugees who fled to Greece from other wars. The unequal treatment leads to frustration and resentment amongst many who have been in Greece for a long time and have suffered from the lack of support by the Greek authorities.
Push Backs, Arrivals and Departures in Lesvos
68 boats with around 2,480 people were illegally pushed back by the Turkish Coast Guard and the Greek Police during March 2022. In contrast, only 497 made it to shore, most of them in Lesvos.
The total population of migrants and refugees on the Aegean Islands is around 3,040 people, of whom 1,870 are on Lesvos.