End Pushbacks Now
1 March 2020 - 31 Oct. 2023: 50,637 arrivals. 73,007 illegal pushbacks
October 2023: 6,518 registered arrivals, 5,115 men, women and children pushed back. Pushback rate: 44 per cent.
Four men died on Friday 19 March 2021, as the direct result of Greek government operatives illegally pushing people back from the Aegean islands.
A further three people - two women and one boy - died as a result of the same practice on 30 July 2021, on 14 September, one young man and a young woman from Cameroon were killed in an incident in which a survivor reports they were beaten and thrown into the sea by the Greek coastguard, and on 1 February 2022, one man was killed in the same way - by being thrown into the sea by the Greek coastguard.
The four men who drowned on 19 March had been set adrift with three others in the Aegean Sea in a life-raft identical to those used by the Greek government for illegal push-backs. All seven had been cuffed with plastic hand restraints.
From 1 March to 31 December 2020, 3,973 men, women and children were registered as new arrivals at refugee camps on the Aegean islands. But in the same period, 9,741 people were pushed back via sea routes in 324 incidents carried out by the Greek government.
From 1 January to 31 December 2021, 3,567 men, women and children were registered at the island refugee camps. In the same period, in 627 pushbacks, 15,803 men, women and children were forced into engineless life rafts and set adrift (in fact, it is increasingly clear that the number of pushbacks may be far, far higher).
And from 1 January - 31 December 2022, 10,661 people were registered as new arrivals at the island refugee camps, while in the same period, in 988 pushbacks, 26,134 men, women and children were barbarically stripped, robbed, forced into engineless life rafts and set adrift, entirely against their will and in direct contravention of international law.
The first ten months of 2023 have shown little improvement: 30,850 people were registered as newly-arriving at the Aegean islands, while 21,743 men, women and children were brutally and barbarically stripped of their rights and possessions - many were beaten - and illegally pushed back from Greece. The Greek authorities are only pushing back a reduced proportion of people compared to the previous three years because the number of people travelling has grown significantly, and the Greek Coastguard is at its maximum capacity for carrying out illegal pushbacks. Even then, some 41.3 per cent of all new arrivals to the Aegean islands in 2023 have been illegally forced back, and the 5,115 people pushed back in October 2023 is the highest number ever recorded. It is those people's legal and human right to be registered and allowed to apply for asylum.
Since 1 March 2020, 59 per cent of all men, women and children attempting to reach Greece by sea have been illegally prevented from landing, or forced out, without being allowed to apply for asylum. In 2021, that number actually increased, to 81.6 per cent, and in 2022, it was 71 per cent.
It is time for this disgraceful, unjustifiable and illegal activity to end.
We call upon all individual MEPs and all parts of the EU to pay attention to, and strongly oppose, the ongoing practice of pushbacks in the Aegean Sea.
E-mail a letter to your MEP/s to request they campaign to end this atrocious practice - and share this link with your friends!
There is only so much any of us can do alone. But together, there is nothing we can't achieve.