Pro Asyl report on the situation of refugees in the Aegean

The truth is bitter but must be told

In 2007, the german human rights organisation Pro Asyl published a report about the the situation of refugees in the Aegean and the practices of the Greek coast guard. The report details the inhuman, degrading and life threatening treatment of refugees who attempt the crossing of the border. The report is also concerned with the access to the asylum system and the condition under which refugees are detained.

Here are excerpts of their findings:

  • The coast guard attempts to block small boats carrying refugees and push them out of the national territorial waters. In order to do so, they circle the boats with their own boats causing waves. These risky maneuvers can result in the death of refugees.
  • Refugees who are already in Greek territorial waters or even at the Greek coast are being driven back into Turkish waters. Their dinghies are deliberately damaged, so that they can, at best, return to the Turkish coast.
  • Refugees are being ›refouled‹ by the coast guards and deposited on so-called »dry (i.e. uninhabited) islands«.
  • The Greek coast guard systematically abuses newly arriving refugees. In one reported case (on Chios island), the degree of maltreatment amounted to torture (serious beating, mock execution, electric shocks, pushing a refugee’s head into a bucket full of water (»submarino«).
  • The administrative practice at the border deprives refugees and other persons in need of international protection of their rights and exposes them to serious risks.
  • Detention conditions on all three islands visited constitute inhuman and degrading treatment.

Download the whole report (pdf, 682kb)

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The name Welcome to Europe expresses the discontent and anger we feel when looking at the fatal realities of the European external border: the long documented deaths and suffering have continued for years, and no end is in sight. We stand for a grassroots movement that embraces migration and wants to create a Europe of hospitality.


We maintain our focus on the European external border in Greece, but will not limit ourselves to that geographical area. The right of freely roaming the globe has to be fought for everywhere. Join us!


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