Summary and analysis of pushbacks and internal violence documented by BVMN during the month of JUly
In July, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) shared 18 testimonies of pushbacks impacting 273 people-on-the-move (POM) across the Balkans and Greece. This report brings together first-hand testimonies from a range of countries in the region to look at the way European Union states and other actors are affecting systemic violence towards people crossing borders.
On the 16th August at 06.26 EEST, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) was alerted to a group of Syrian and Turkish asylum seekers stranded on an islet in the Evros river close to Didymoteicho, in Greek territory. The Syrian nationals of the group stated that they were seeking asylum due to the war in their country which has placed them at risk of serious physical harm, and the Turkish nationals are from the Kurdish minority and therefore at risk of persecution in Turkey. They reported that they had been stuck on the islet since the 14th August 2022. The group includes nine women, 16 children and eight individuals who are particularly vulnerable and require medical attention. One is four months pregnant, two are asthmatic, one is diabetic and suffers from high blood pressure, another suffers from high blood pressure, two of the children are having difficulty breathing, and another child has a severe visual impairment. Weimmediatelyrelayed this information to the competent authorities: the Hellenic Police, Frontex,theOmbudsperson,theNationalHumanRightsInstitution,andUNHCR.Our operatives on the ground called the emergency 112 line at 18.23 EEST on 16th August who assured us that they were aware of the group and a search and rescue (SAR) operation was underway. The following morning, on 17th August at 09.27 EEST the group again shared their live location which showed them on the islet, stating that nobody had approached the islet the previous evening or over the night.
On the 27th July, BVMN published a briefing which detailed an update on the situation at the Evros border, specifically regarding pushbacks in the month of July. At the time of writing, one emerging case was detailed which involved a large transit group who had been stranded on an islet for over ten days, despite being granted interim measures.
The following briefing provides an update on the critical situation for the same transit group who have been stranded on an islet in the Evros river and violently pushed back and forth between Greece and Turkey over a period of three weeks. Despite the ECtHR indicating a Rule 39 measure mandating the Greek state to carry out search and rescue operations, as well as provide medical support, access to Greek territory and food and water, the group remains on the islet today in a severely deteriorating condition. Alarmingly, the transit group reported that a young 5-year-old girl died in the early hours of 9th August 2022, as well as a 9-year-old girl being in urgent need of medical care. BVMN joins the Greek Council of Refugees and Human Rights 360 to urgently call upon the Greek authorities to carry out search and rescue and provide the transit group access to their fundamental rights. The briefing further makes recommendations to the European Commission to hold Greece accountable for such violations.
At the start of July, BVMN published a report on the phenomenon of groups being stranded on islets in the Evros river border between Greece and Turkey, and the increasing frequency with which human rights groups are filing for interim measures at the ECtHR. In the report, we highlighted the shifting modus operandi of human rights violations at the Evros border and the concurrent criminalisation of those responding to them. Read alongside the recent investigation by Lighthouse Reports, LeMonde, Spiegel, the Guardian, and ARD76 which uncovered systematic exploitation of people-on-the-move, it is evident that the mass proliferation of human rights violations in Greece are contributing to an overall erosion of the rule of law.
The following briefing details political responses that followed the publication of the report, updates on the situation regarding pushbacks in the Evros region in the last month, and recommendations to the Greek government, European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), and the European Commission.
Summary and analysis of pushbacks and internal violence documented by BVMN during the month of JUNE
In June, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) shared 14 testimonies of pushbacks impacting 676 people-on-the-move (POM) across the Balkans and Greece. This report brings together first-hand testimonies from a range of countries in the region to look at the way European Union states and other actors are affecting systemic violence towards people crossing borders.