08/07: 19 travellers at Turkish-Greek landborder, pushed-back to Turkey
Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 8th of July 2018
Case name: 2018_07_08-AEG406
Situation: 19 travellers at Turkish-Greek landborder, pushed-back to Turkey
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea
Summary of the Case:
On Sunday, 8th of July, at 11:14pm CEST, we were alerted to a group of travellers stuck near #Tichero, Greece, close to the Turkish landborder. The group consisted of 19 people, among them a 1-year-old child, a pregnant lady and a man that had a broken leg. At 12:11pm we managed to establish contact to the travellers. They were afraid of being pushed-back to Turkey by the police and asked for medical aid and the possibility to seek asylum in Greece. We asked them for a list of their names and birth dates in order to alert UNHCR. At 1:02am we received the list. We couldn’t get back in contact until 1:47am. The group decided not to move further and to wait until the morning for the UNHCR office to open so they could call there.
At 8:30am we called UNHCR and asked for assistance. At 8:45am we also called the local police station but the operator refused to speak to us in English. We told the group to call 112 themselves for assistance. Until 9:30am we couldn’t reach any local police station. At 9:50am we sent an email to the local authorities and UNHCR to inform them about the people. Afterwards we continuously tried again to get in touch with the authorities and the group, but couldn’t establish a connection any more. At 2pm we reached the police in Alexandropolis. They informed us that they were searching since one hour but hadn’t found the travellers. During the afternoon, we couldn’t get any news and didn’t reach the travellers anymore. At 6:53pm the police informed us that they had not found the group yet. The next day at 11:02am we were informed by a contact person that the group had been found and that they had been allegedly violently pushed-back to Turkey. At 12:45am we managed to reach the group itself. They told us that the police had found them at 5:00pm the day before and put them in „a prison“. At 10:00pm the police had told the group that they were being moved to a camp to apply for international protection. However, the police instead brought them back to the river and handed them to officers discribed as „military“, who forced them onto a boat and across Evros border river back to Turkey. The police officers before had confiscated personal belongings of the refugees, including mobile phones, money, passports and the food for the baby.