Greece’s pushbacks of irregular migrants have increased by 97% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to a report by Norwegian nongovernmental organization Aegean Boat Report, which monitors the movement of migrants in the area.
The NGO reported 629 pushbacks by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea alone, according to the report.
“In 2021, Aegean Boat Report have registered 629 pushback cases in the Aegean Sea, involving 15803 children, women and men who tried to reach safety in Europe,” the NGO said, adding that a third of them, some 5220 people, had already arrived on Greek islands before they were arrested by police, forced back to sea and left drifting in lifeboats.
The report also noted that almost 60% of all boats picked up by Turkish coast guard units in 2021 had been pushed back by Greece.
Meanwhile, according to Turkey’s Coast Guard Command, 79 incidents of irregular migration, involving 1,975 people, were reported at sea between Jan. 1 and Feb. 4, 2022.
Human rights groups believe violent actions, reported by migrants in different parts of the world, are designed to discourage fleeing people from trying to enter a particular country and to look for a different route.
A protest was held in the Greek capital Athens on Sunday to demonstrate against the country's violent migrant policies.
Turkey is a major crossing point for migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in European Union countries.
Most try to cross into Greece – a key gateway to the EU for people fleeing war or poverty – by either crossing the northeastern land border or cramming into boats headed for the eastern Aegean Sea islands.