The respondent, a 38-year-old man from Syria, was pushed back from Albania to Greece on the 7th of August 2022.
The respondent explained that he was transiting through a village in the Devoll district in Albania, close to the Albanian-Greek border, with a 25-year-old man from Syria. They were on the outskirts of the village close to a forest when they were reportedly noticed and subsequently chased by a marked white jeep that said ‘Police’.
Upon sight of the vehicle, the respondent’s friend panicked, gave the respondent his backpack and ran away. The respondent, however, did not run away and was subsequently apprehended by two officers described as wearing dark blue uniforms and speaking Greek and Albanian. The respondent said one of the uniformed men kicked him in the thigh, despite the respondent reporting that he said to them “I respect your law, why do you do this to me, I didn’t run away, I saw you, I stopped, why do you beat me up?”. He pleaded with them to stop beating him, and when they attempted to beat him again he said he told them he had papers and that they “don’t have the right to beat me”. One of the uniformed men reportedly replied “no I won’t beat you again, just sit down”.
The respondent reported that the uniformed men insisted that he give them the number of his friend who ran away. The respondent replied, “I don’t have his number, I don’t know him well […] we just came here together, we didn’t know each other before”. After failing to acquire any information from the respondent about his friend, the respondent said the uniformed men called for backup and after an estimated 15 mins, two more men described as wearing a dark blue uniforms arrived in an unmarked white van, which the respondent believed to be new.
The two uniformed men in the van reportedly told the respondent “you have to put your backpack in the back in the truck” and to “get inside the van”. After driving for what the respondent estimated to be 10-15 mins, they arrived at a detention site. When asked to describe the site the respondent said there were eight or nine containers with a “small police station” next to them and a wall surrounding the site. He added that there were a few cars but could not recall how many.
The respondent explained that he was taken to a room where a woman described as wearing a light blue army uniform took his personal information, fingerprints and photograph. A man reportedly dressed in the same uniform but with a golden star on his shoulder was also present and they spoke Albanian to each other but tried to speak in Greek to the respondent. He also described seeing an IOM sign in this room.
When the respondent asked to claim asylum he was reportedly told ‘‘no, you are not allowed to”. In response to this, the respondent told them “I need to go back to Germany because my life is there, my papers are there”. The identification procedures took what the respondent perceived to be 10 mins. Whilst detained at this site, he was reportedly not body searched nor were his possessions taken, but he was denied food and told he could drink water from the toilet tap.
According to the respondent, he was then put into the same unmarked white van used to transport him to the site of detention and driven by the same two men in dark blue uniforms. He asked the men “where are you taking me? To the capital?” to which they responded that they were taking him to Greece. They drove for what the respondent said felt like 10 mins until they reached a point where he was then transferred to an “army car” that was waiting in the forest which was driven by two Albanian-speaking men described as wearing blue uniforms. One uniformed man drove the vehicle while the other sat next to the respondent.
According to the respondent, they drove for an estimated 15 mins until they reached the Albanian-Greek border, whereby the two uniformed men dropped the respondent and pointed to the route he had to take to cross the border and said “you have to take this road”.
After the respondent crossed the border into Greece, he met a group of approximately nine people (it is unclear about their circumstances and whether or not they were pushed back) and walked for about 26 kilometers until they arrived at Kastoria before taking a bus to Thessaloniki.