In a go to to Greece, the European Union’s high migration official has referred to as on the nation to “do extra” to research allegations that its coastguard is pushing asylum seekers again to neighbouring Turkey.
The United Nations refugee company (UNHCR) has mentioned it has obtained a rising variety of experiences in current months suggesting asylum seekers might have been pushed again to Turkey at sea or instantly after reaching Greek soil, or left adrift at sea.
Greek officers have all the time rejected the experiences.
“I’m very involved in regards to the UNHCR report and there are some particular circumstances that I actually suppose must be regarded into nearer,” Ylva Johansson, the EU’s residence affairs commissioner, mentioned throughout a go to to the Greek island of Lesbos.
“I believe the Greek authorities can do extra on the subject of investigating these alleged pushbacks.”
Heading to Samos and Lesvos 🇬🇷 to evaluate the progress of the brand new migration and asylum reception amenities, go to non permanent websites and meet with native and regional representatives. #MigrationEU pic.twitter.com/3M0F3cxQos
— Ylva Johansson (@YlvaJohansson) March 29, 2021
Johansson pledged 276 million euros ($326m) of EU cash for brand new camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, the place almost 14,000 migrants are hosted, saying it was crucial to seek out “new political options” to share the burden between EU states.
“For 3 years, there had been no progress on discovering a political answer,” Johansson mentioned. “I can perceive that everyone has a restrict to their persistence … this restrict is shut, additionally right here on Lesbos and in another areas,” she mentioned.
Greek Minister Notis Mitarachi, talking at a information convention with Johansson, mentioned Greece adhered to European and worldwide legislation.
“We strongly deny that the Greek coastguard has ever been concerned in pushbacks,” he mentioned.
“We perceive we’re inflicting a lack of tens of tens of millions of euros to smuggling networks, and that would have performed a task within the sort of faux information we hear in regards to the Greek coastguard,” he mentioned.
Mitarachi mentioned impartial investigations, together with by the Greek judiciary and by the EU’s border company Frontex, had not discovered violations.
Greece desires Turkey higher police migration routes and take again lots of of asylum seekers discovered ineligible for refugee safety.
In the meantime, Johansson additionally mentioned Turkey should “urgently” resume accepting migrants from Greece.
Her remarks come earlier than EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel are set to go to Turkey subsequent week to satisfy President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over migration and different regional points.
In 2015 Greece, Lesbos specifically, was on the entrance line of a refugee disaster that noticed almost 1,000,000 individuals, largely Syrians, fleeing warfare, arriving by boat from Turkey.
Numbers have decreased dramatically for the reason that EU struck a take care of Ankara a yr later, with some 16,000 individuals arriving in Greece final yr, in keeping with UN information.
The nation has toughened its migration coverage since conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis got here to energy in 2019.
Border patrols have elevated, asylum processes have been quickened and advantages have been slashed, even for refugees who’re granted asylum.
Mitarachi mentioned about 14,000 migrants have been at the moment in camps on 5 islands, down from about 42,000 in 2019. About 58,000 have been in camps throughout Greece, down from 92,000 in 2019.