Since March 2020, we have observed a significant increase in push-backs in the Aegean Sea, and the number of new arrivals to the Aegean Islands has dropped dramatically. Push-backs consist of collective expulsion of migrants back into Turkish waters by the Greek Coast Guard, in collaboration with Frontex and NATO, putting at risk the lives of people on the move to seek a safe place. Verbal and psychological violence, and in some cases also torture, is used against migrants during these push-backs. They’re exposed to violent attacks, their dingies are often damaged on purpose, and they are left to their fate in the sea on orange liferafts or motorless boats.
Even though the Human Rights Committee has banned collective expulsions, push-backs in the Aegean Sea remain unpunished, depriving asylum seekers, including children and infants, of their right to seek asylum and, in some cases causing the loss of human lives. Crossing the Aegean Sea is more dangerous than ever for migrants today. Pray for justice for migrants who are denied their right to safe passage under the cruel control of a militarized European border regime.