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GUE/NGL demands answers from Greek Presidency on refugee push-backs

During the first two weeks of the Greek Presidency, 12 refugees (three women and nine children) lost their lives in the North Aegean Sea when their vessel capsized near a Greek island while being towed by the Greek Coast Guard at high speed towards the Turkish coast.

 

In light of this tragedy, the GUE/NGL Group has ensured that the matter will be on next week's Strasbourg plenary session agenda by tabling an oral question.

 

GUE/NGL MEPs are demanding answers from the Greek authorities about what action they are taking to establish procedures that prevent the use of practices that violate European law, undermine human rights and endanger lives. Our group wants to know whether the Greek authorities have effectively investigated these allegations and recorded the incidents or if they plan to do so.

 

The oral question also asks what measures have been taken by Greece in order to ensure that migrants who claim to be in need of protection have immediate and effective access to relevant administrative support, lawyers, NGOs and the UNHCR, as well as to adequate asylum procedures and reception conditions in light of the infringement procedure and the Action Plan launched by the Commission.

 

Push-back practices by Greek coast guards are unfortunately not unheard of. According to several international and European NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Greek border police are alleged to have sent individuals or groups in Greece back across the border into Turkey in at least 40 ‘push-back’ operations over the last 2 years.