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  • Writer's pictureRory O'Keeffe, Koraki

Aegean deaths: Mitarachis misleads Greek public

As Greece’s Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis once again abuses his position by misinforming the Greek public – this time about people dying in the Aegean Sea – it is reasonable to demand that, whether he is lying or not, he must take his post seriously, and improve his performance, or resign.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis has – we will be charitable and say ‘inadvertently’ – misled the Greek public live on national radio.

Appearing on Skai 100.3 (Greece), Mitarachis entirely incorrectly claimed that ‘his policies’ had ‘minimised the number of deaths on the Aegean’ ‘almost to zero’.

His full comment was:

The reality is that the strict policy of our country in the last 3 years has minimized, according to the official data of the High Commissioner, almost to zero the loss of human lives in the Aegean & this is very important.

Now. It seems almost impossible that Mitarachis does not know that this is not true, in which case he has deliberately lied to the Greek public.

But to be honest, it simply doesn’t matter whether he lied or not: what he said was untrue, and even if he doesn’t know that it was, this only indicates his unwillingness and inability to do his job.

Here’s how we know what he said is untrue.

According to UNHCR’s data on Greece, in 2017, there were 59 deaths in the Aegean Sea. In 2018, there were 174.

In 2019, there were 71 deaths. We must note here that Mitarachis’ Nea Dimokratia party took power in Greece only on 7 July 2019, and did not begin governing in reality until the next month.

Not only that, Mitarachis’ ministry did not even exist outside of the Ministry of Citizens’ Protection for almost all of the second half of 2019, and it was not until 1 March 2020 that Mitarachis’ main – in fact arguably sole – policy on new arrivals, the illegal and brutal pushback of men, women and children, began.

With that in mind, in 2020, there were 102 deaths. In 2021, 115 people died.

So far this year, not including the eight people who died in the Greek Coastguard’s ‘botched’ ‘rescue’ in the Cyclades early on Sunday morning IoM’s ‘missing migrants’ project lists 56 people as having died in the Aegean.

It is not yet half-way through the year, the four months August-November are usually the months with the largest number of people travelling, and 64 people have died.

There is literally no planet on which it is true that any ‘policy’ of Mitarachis has ‘minimised… almost to zero the loss of human lives in the Aegean’.

Either Mitarachis knows this, in which case he is deliberately misleading the Greek people – lying to the country – or he does not know, in which case not only is he incapable of doing, or unwilling to do, his job, he is still, even then, misleading and misinforming the Greek public.

As we have noted regarding Greek journalists, Mitarachis has a privileged position. Unlike those journalists, he holds a more powerful position than almost anyone in Greece, and gets to create and pass laws which affect men, women and children inside Greece and beyond its borders.

Like those journalists, he has a platform, from which his ideas, opinions and knowledge can be heard by millions of people. Whether he is lying or simply too lazy to check whether what he is saying is true, he is abusing that position: he is telling Greek people things which are, simply, not true.

This is not acceptable, and he must either cease to do so, or resign.

(We could also note that the death rates for 2020 and 2021 are in fact far higher (deaths compared to safe arrivals) even than 2018: even if we include the people pushed-back – people Mitarachis claims simply do not exist – the figures are:

2018, travellers – 32,494; deaths – 174. Death rate: one death per 186.75 people.

2019, travellers – 59,726; deaths – 71. Death rate: one death per 842.2 people.

2020, travellers – 19,455; deaths – 102. Death rate: one death per 190.74 people.

2021, travellers – 20,134; deaths – 115. Death rate: one death per 175.1 people.

2022 (so far), travellers – 9,535; deaths – 64. Death rate one death per 149 people.

Mitarachis’ ‘policy’ has in fact led to death rates higher in the last 18 months, than the highest rate on record, in 2018)


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