Despite the cold weather and poor conditions at sea, increasing number of refugees who left Turkey could reach to Greece. Ekathimerini reported the arrivals in Cyrpus and Evros subsequently. With the higher number of arrivals from Turkey to Cyprus, an apparent shift was addressed from recent arrivals that came from Lebanon. Moreover, an increase at the arrivals through Evros was identified both in comparison to last year and concerning the higher number of Turkish nationals seeking asylum.
On 8th of January, Ekathimerini reported that a total of 31 Syrian refugees managed to reach Cyprus on early morning, despite very cold weather and poor conditions at sea.
Human Rights Watch published a report on 18th of December (see the full report in English, Turkish or Greek) regarding the violent push-backs commited by Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region. While the officers in some cases were said to use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings, HRW urged the Greek authorities to cease summary returns to Turkey, investigate abuses, and hold those responsible to account.
“All those interviewed said they were transported to the border with Turkey in groups of 60 to 80, in military trucks or unmarked vans. In all but three cases, the agents wore face masks, black pants, or camouflage, making it impossible to recognize or identify them. In the three other cases, interviewees said police in regular blue and camouflage uniforms transported them to the river. Ten out of 26 interviewees said they were physically abused or witnessed others being ill-treated during the pushback operation.”
Along with a press release the Greek Council for Refugees , the Association for the Social Support of Youth, and HumanRights360 published a report about the continuous push-backs of third country nationals on the Evros river.
Via Ahval News – Cyprus is increasingly becoming an attractive destination for migrants and refugees seeking shelter and a new life in Europe as they arrive in the north of the island and make their way down to the Greek Cyprus, the Cyprus Mail said.
Via Daily Sabah* – The controversial and illegal practice of “pushback,” forcibly sending illegal migrants to countries they arrived from, is in the spotlight once again after the bodies of three migrants were found near the Turkish border. Greece is accused of sending back the migrants after stripping them of their clothes in freezing temperatures. Minister for Citizen Protection, Olga Gerovasili, whose ministry oversees border security, denied the allegation and told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Greece is not involved in such incidents. Yet, figures provided to AA by Turkish security sources show many illegal migrants were forced to go back to Turkey by Greek officials; some 2,490 migrants were “pushed back” in November alone.
The bodies of three people thought to be irregular migrants have been found in separate border villages in Turkey’s northwestern Edirne province, security sources said Tuesday.
The body of one migrant — thought to be of Afghan origin — was found in the village of Serem, while the bodies of two more migrants were found in the villages of Akçadam and Adasarhanlı, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The Greek group ‘Racist Crime Watch‘ published new evidence of police violence and illegal push-backs of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey via the Evros river. In a letter to the Commissional for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatović, they address these mistreatments:
Another video evidence of police violence and illegal deportation of asylum seekers in Evros
Further to our 9 and 29 September 2018 letters, we are sending another update with information published in Hurriyet Daily News and reprinted (without editing) here.
Via Hurriyet Daily News (13th November) – Turkish villagers warmly welcome migrants after Greek police beat them naked
Residents of the Kiremitçi Salih village in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne warmly welcomed a group of migrants they found naked and exhausted in their fields late Nov. 11.
Following our attendance at the Kritnet Conference in last May, we finally had the chance to share our contributions in HarekAct. One of our editors focused on the post EU-Turkey deal context in Istanbul, Turkey, which is marked by policies and practices of marginalization, irregularization and criminalization of migrants. The unfavorable conditions in the provision of registration, services and protection, with the implementation of additional mechanisms of securitization, detention and forced deportation, has had the impact of extending the constraints of the global border regime further to directly affect the living experiences of migrants in Istanbul.
In July, Human Rights Watch also published a report on the consequences of Turkey’s suspension of registering Syrians in Istanbul and other nine cities along the Syrian border. The report claims that this practice represents Turkey’s latest efforts in denying new asylum-seekers protection, following the closure of the borders and the shooting at individuals attempting to cross. Ultimately it is forcing Syrians to live under the risk of deportation, without access to urgent services, and having to depend on smugglers inside Turkey.
Turkey warned Greece on Tuesday it would not tolerate a shift in the Greek maritime border, a few days after Athens said it planned to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles to the west of the country.
Territorial waters are a sensitive issue between the two neighbours, who are separated by the Aegean Sea. Turkey and Greece have been at odds over their respective continental shelves for decades.
Turkey has previously warned it could not preclude military action to defend its interests.
Former Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who resigned last week, said on Saturday that Athens planned to extend its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea, which flanks the west coast of the country. The planned measure would not affect the Aegean region, off Greece’s eastern and southern coasts.
Turkey’s foreign ministry, however, said that it had noted statements from Athens of plans for the gradual expansion of Greek territorial waters.