Rory O'Keeffe, Koraki
How is Alexandrakis Georgios still in a job?
We would never normally write a piece like this one, but in the light of the outright lies of the commander of the Greek Coast Guard, Alexandrakis Georgios, regarding deaths in the Mediterranean, we must ask: how is a man with his record of abject failure, having more than quadrupled deaths at sea since 2019, still allowed to head the Greek Coastguard?
The commander of the Greek Coast Guard, Alexandrakis Georgios, has lied to Der Standard (Germany) that the cause of people dying at sea is NGO rescue missions.
In a tired re-tread of a very old and very foolish accusation, but with some ‘modern’ and in some ways more worrying additions, Georgios said on Friday 24 February 2023:
‘The fact that NGO ships are out in the Mediterranean to rescue people from rubber boats is a pull factor for migration.
‘This is why they withhold figures on deaths in the Mediterranean. While Greece does not allow NGO ships off its coast and 367 people drowned there last year, 1,362 people died off the coast of Italy, where boats of the aid organisations regularly dock and dock. You will never hear these numbers from the NGOs.’
First of all, the idea that rescue boats existing is ‘a reason’ for people travelling is like saying that the fact that ambulances exist is a ‘reason’ for people crossing the road.
People cross the road because they need to. People travel because they need to. Rescue boats and ambulances are there to try to ensure that people do not die if the worst happens while people are doing what they need to do.
It’s simply insane that anyone in any position of power, control or knowledge, as he is supposed to be, would say anything of the sort.
But what he then does is worse.
Because first of all, it’s a lie – aid organisations regularly report the number of people who die in the Mediterranean, and certainly more often than the Greek government does.. It’s the reason Georgios knows how many people died in the Central Mediterranean – not his region – last year.
Even smaller NGOs, which could not possibly claim to know how many people have died in total in the Mediterranean each year – it’s not their job to count casualties and they cannot be everywhere at once – share their data with IOM, for example, which runs the Missing Migrants project.
This is where those figures – contributed by NGOs – are compiled and bundled into easy to understand packages which Georgios misuses.
What he has done here is told a lie about why people are dying and then told another lie in which he claims that his lie that responsibility for those deaths belongs to NGOs is proven by their hiding the number of people who died, which they did not and do not do.
He is claiming that NGOs are ‘covering up’ something they do not cover up, to avoid responsibility for something for which they are not responsible.
To lie about people saving lives in order to pretend they, rather than governments which deny people the right to travel, and coastguards which carry out their illegal orders, are responsible for people drowning in the Mediterranean, is genuinely a despicable thing to do.
If Georgios cared one iota for the people dying in the Mediterranean, he would first refuse to allow his force to carry out pushbacks and attack boats carrying people towards Greece, and then demand his government ensured safe routes were open on which people could travel in safe transportation to Greece to apply for asylum.
The reason more people die in the Central Mediterranean than in the Aegean is simple: the area is far bigger, the journey is far longer, and therefore it is far more dangerous. Added to that, more people attempt to make this crossing, from more countries. Of course more people die.
In fact, here is what Georgios should be worried about, and does not mention even once.
Last year, 105,131 people were registered as new arrivals in Italy by sea, compared with 12,758 in Greece.
In the Central Mediterranean, 1,368 people died. In the Eastern Mediterranean, 326 people drowned. This in fact means that one in every 40 people who attempted to arrive in Greece by sea – 2.49 per cent – died.
By comparison, one in every 77.85 – 1.28 per cent of – people who tried to reach Italy died. A death rate very close to half of that the Greek Coastguard achieved by not allowing NGO boats to carry out search and rescue operations in the Aegean.
What Georgios should also be concerned about – but also does not mention at all – is that he has overseen an increase in deaths at sea in his region from 71 deaths in 2019, when 59,726 people arrived in Greece (one death per 842 travellers, 0.12 per cent) to 326 – 4.59 times as many – last year, when just 12,758 people arrived, 4.68 times fewer people.
This is an astonishing and unacceptable dereliction of his life-saving duties and he should surely be fired, or resign in shame for it, instead of claiming Greece is somehow ‘performing well’ and its victimisation of NGOs is the reason.
One possible indication of the reason for Georgios and his ‘service’ ‘s absolutely abysmal performance – literally being paid for with the lives of innocent people – is that elsewhere in the same article he claims that the Greek Coastguard’s job is to: ‘Protect Europe’ from refugees.
Of course, it is not. It is to protect and save the lives of people in trouble at sea.
He is not doing that. The record of the service he manages is by far the worst of any in Europe: he has more than quadrupled deaths since 2019, even though the number of people reaching Greece has fallen by more than 78 per cent in that time.
It is perhaps unfortunate that Georgios has drawn attention to himself with this toxic and obviously untrue statement. We would almost certainly not have shown his abominable record, in this way, at this time, had he not.
But that does not change the fact that the commander of the Greek Coast Guard, Alexandrakis Georgios, is not only a fraud, telling lies to smear genuine life-savers, he is also an incompetent, who has caused the deaths of innocent people through his complete inability and perhaps also unwillingness to do his job.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that not only should he not be feeding media organisations transparent lies (and not only should those organisations refuse to speak to him), he should be immediately fired, or resign, due to his gross incompetence.