Athens, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- The International Organization for Migration expressed “deep concern” on Thursday over reports of expulsions of migrants at the Greek-Turkish border.
The organization said the pushbacks have been violent at times and appealed to governments to suspend deportations during the pandemic.
It described reports and footage of Greek coastguard vessels forcibly repelling refugee boats in the Eastern Aegean Sea as “especially disturbing.”
“IOM, together with partners, are closely monitoring the situation and have received reports of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey and violence perpetrated against migrants by some border personnel,” the intergovernmental organization said in a statement.
The IOM, which is headquartered in Geneva, called on Greek authorities to investigate these allegations and refrain from using practices that could compromise the human rights of migrants “including measures such as the construction of border walls, militarizing border patrols or increasing deportations.”
It has also urged authorities to suspend deportations and facilitate voluntary returns as much as possible during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Particularly for those migrants who, considering the situation, would feel safer back home and express their wish to return,” the IOM added.
“At all times, priority should be given to ensuring protection-sensitive border management aligned with international law, which respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of their migratory status including the right to seek asylum.”
Complaints about this type of illegal practices by Greek authorities have increased in recent months, supported by a growing number of videos in recent weeks.
Greece’s government, headed by conservative prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has described the information as false.