At the end of September, 25 people from northern Iraq arrived in the village of Vasilitsi on the Greek mainland. But the next day, there was no trace of them. The mayor as well as several local residents documented their arrival and the whole situation. This was reported by the Tagesschau (German News channel) at the end of October. One of the Iraqis was located, and he reported concerning issues: at night, the group was brought on a boat and told it would take them to Italy. Instead, they were stripped of all their money and valuables and taken to the coast with more than a hundred other people, including women and children. Once there, they were forced into small rubber boats and then brought back to Izmir by the Turkish Coast Guard. There they were officially registered. This is an illegal incident that demonstrates the close, systematic cooperation between the Greek and Turkish authorities.
Forced to leave the areas where people drown
The ship “Mare Liberum” was forced to leave the areas of Lesvos where people regularly try to reach Europe. On October 22, the Greek authorities sent them away without any legal justification, Mare Liberum reported. This is another politically motivated method of keeping witnesses away from the illegal pushbacks happening off the coasts of the Aegean Islands. Just four days later, a boat off Chios didn’t make it to shore and at least four children drowned. This tragic incident shows how important independent observers like Mare Liberum are – they save lives.
Thousands left without food
This month, the Greek government took over the cash transfers to asylum seekers, which previously had been managed by UNHCR. Although this was announced months in advance, there was a serious delay in transferring the funds in October. Many asylum seekers rely on this cash assistance to meet basic needs such as buying healthy and nutritious food. Healthy food is often insufficient and poor quality in the camps, and can be hard to access for those living outside the camps.
Arrivals and Numbers
In October 2021, almost 110 boats with 2270 people were stopped on their way to the Aegean Islands in Greek territory. Greek Migration Minister Mitarakis told the press that the low number of arrivals to Greece are due to “great efforts in guarding the borders.” He probably did not want to refer to the illegal practice of pushbacks. In the same time period, 17 boats arrived to the islands with approximately 300 people. This brings the total number of registered refugees and migrants to 4390 persons on the Aegean Islands (October 24, 2021), 3,330 of whom are currently on Lesvos.