The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , is urging Greece to investigate multiple reports of pushbacks by Greek authorities at the country’s sea and land borders, possibly returning migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey after they had reached Greek territory or territorial waters.
Read the summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch, at the press briefing held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva here:
UNHCR has continuously addressed its concerns with the Greek government and has called for urgent inquiries into a series of alleged incidents reported in media, many of which corroborated by non-governmental organizations and direct testimonies. Such allegations have increased since March and reports indicate that several groups of people may have been summarily returned after reaching Greek territory.
Some 3,000 asylum seekers arrived in Greece by land and sea since the start of March, a precipitous drop from previous months and compared to previous years. Yet, the number of reported pushbacks, particularly at sea, has been rising.
Greece has the legitimate right to control its borders and manage irregular migration while respecting international human rights and refugee protection standards. Controls and practices must guarantee the rights of asylum seekers and they should not be turned away at Greece’s borders.
The Hellenic Coast Guard has shown exceptional dedication and courage to save countless refugee and migrant lives at sea. However, the present allegations go against Greece’s international obligations and can expose people to grave danger.
The right to seek and enjoy asylum is fundamental and all asylum seekers should be provided with access to asylum procedures and protection from refoulement or informal forced return.
The coronavirus pandemic has deepened the plight of people fleeing war, conflict and persecution, but people who are forced to flee conflict and persecution should not be denied safety and protection under these circumstances.
UNHCR has been calling on states to manage border restrictions in ways that also respect international human rights and refugee protection standards, including through quarantines and health checks. With the need to reduce risks to public health, UNHCR has been supporting efforts and calling for additional and adequate spaces for a 14-day quarantine.
The UNHCR has done how much for the people of Hellas? During the devastating economic crisis, when people were begging for food, just food, where were any UN agencies. When Hellenes were being abused and even killed in terrorist Albania, what did the UNHCR do to keep them safe? And on the issue of refugees, with Turkey openly allowing low standard rubber rafts and life jackets to be sold to refugees, when we have seen many photos of Turkish vessels taking refugees to Hellenic islands in massive numbers, so high that they exceed the local populations and, as we know, about 80% being male… thus making it all more like an invasion, when Turkey is caught even by german security forces trying to help thousands across the occupied Thracian border, what is the UNHCR or any other UN agency doing to prevent such immoral acts by the people who have professed an open hatred of HELLAS? What has any UN agency done to support the masses of refugees on Hellenic islands, to stop thievery, looting, destruction of churches, massive littering and dumping…? We demand answers from the United Nations, but given their bias towards Erdogan, I wonder if my father is correct and that HELLAS should withdraw from both the UN and NATO and side with Russia and the Warsaw nations, most of whom are Orthodox.