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Briefing on New NYT Evidence of Aegean Pushbacks

Date 5 June, 2023
Category Policy Brief

Last month the New York Times published further evidence of rights violations in the Aegean sea. BVMN data affirms that this practice has been ongoing. Between 2020-2022, former BVMN member organisations Josoor and Mare Liberum (and other anonymous members) collected 14 testimonies of pushbacks in the Aegean from the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Rhodos, Kos, Samos, and other areas of Greek territorial waters, impacting 384 individuals. 13 of these testimonies (93%) involved minors, 12 (86%) reported the use of violence, and all 14 (100%) recorded the theft and/or destruction of personal belongings. Further evidence of these illegal operations can be found in two visual investigations which verify events by analysing drone footage and videos taken by people on the move during their pushbacks. In their testimonies, respondents have reported severe beatings, the damaging of their boats and the motors before being left adrift at sea, the creation of waves endangering their boat to sink, the theft of their belongings, and being left adrift on inflatable rafts. Furthermore, several cases indicate a practice of indiscriminate forced undressings of men, women and children, sexual harassment or assault, and people being threatened with firearms. BVMN’s work with Forensic Architecture on the Aegean Driftbacks Platform further geolocated and verified 1,018 incidents of asylum seekers being abandoned at sea, impacting 27,464 people between 2020-2022. Incidents of pushbacks have also been reported by Frontex officers themselves, as evidenced by Serious Incident Reports, obtained by I Have Rights through Freedom of information requests. Read the report for more, as well as our recommendations

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