July 20, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

BBC: Greek coast guard is to blame for the deaths of dozens of migrants

The BBC reported on Monday that the Greek coast guard had caused the deaths of dozens of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea by trying to push them away and throw them into the water. The Greek government and coast guard strongly deny these claims.

Citing sources from local media, non-governmental organizations and the Turkish coast guard, the BBC says 40 migrant deaths in three yearsincluding nine that were deliberately thrown into the water.

The nine people are among more than 40 who are said to have died after being forced out of Greek territorial waters or pulled back into the sea after reaching the Greek islands, a BBC analysis has found. The Greek coast guard told the BBC it strongly rejected all allegations of illegal activity.

Similar allegations have been made before, but this is the first time the BBC has counted the number of incidents in which it is alleged that the deaths occurred as a result of the actions of the Greek coast guard. The 15 incidents analyzed, dating from May 2020-23, resulted in 43 deaths. Initial sources of information were mainly local media, non-governmental organizations and the Turkish coast guard.

Among the examples cited in the report, BBC journalists showed a former senior Greek coast guard officer footage of 12 people being loaded onto a Greek coast guard boat and then abandoned on a small boat. During the break, without turning off the microphone, the former officer said that this “obviously illegal” and “constitutes an international crime.”

Asked about the BBC report during a press briefing on Monday, government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said the competent authorities were investigating the allegations, as they do with all such claims, but added that “statements included [в доклад]are not justified.”

He also praised the work of the coast guard, noting that they “often go beyond the call of duty, their responsibilities and their obligations, saving dozens of lives every day, sometimes even more on particularly difficult days, and they will continue to do so.”

Full text of the BBC report here.

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