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07.10.2021 18:12 News >> 'EU Extremely Concerned About Migrant Pushbacks'

'EU Extremely Concerned About Migrant Pushbacks'

EU official to discuss issue of pushbacks with Greek, Croatian ministers, calls for probe after 'shocking' media reports.

The EU is "extremely concerned" about migrant pushbacks, a top official said on Thursday, adding that news of such incidents damages the bloc's reputation.
"Some of these reports are shocking and I'm extremely concerned," Ylva Johansson, EU commissioner for home affairs, told reporters about a joint investigation by media outlets Der Spiegel, ARD, and Liberation.
Johansson will meet Greek and Croatian ministers on Thursday to discuss the issue of migrant pushbacks.
The investigation unearthed evidence that Greek, Croatian, and Romanian authorities have been violently pushing back asylum seekers crossing the bloc's external borders.
"There seems to be in the case, some kind of orchestration of violence at our external borders, and there seems to be convincing evidence of misuse of [EU] funds," Johansson said, referring to the fact that authorities of these countries have received significant financial support from the EU for external border management.
The commissioner promised that she would "raise the reports directly" when meeting Greek Minister for Migration Notis Mitarachi and Croatia's Interior Affairs Minister Davor Bozinovic.
Johansson stressed the need for the allegations to be investigated.
"The [European] Commission strongly opposes any pushback practices and has repeatedly emphasized that any such practices are illegal," Adalbert Jahnz, spokesperson on home affairs and citizenship, said at a news briefing earlier on Thursday.
He called the reports a "very concerning mistreatment of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees that are unacceptable," adding that the allegations "must be investigated" particularly in terms of respect for fundamental rights.
Jahnz also explained that the EU executive body "continues to have serious concerns, based on evidence and reports, presented by both the European Parliament and UNHCR."
He noted that it is beyond the European Commission's power to investigate acts of national authorities, but asserted that it has been helping member states address "reports of unlawful activities and use extended borders."
There have been numerous reports of Greek forces endangering lives by illegally pushing back boats with asylum seekers in recent months.
Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, which is also condemned by international human rights groups as a violation of humanitarian values and international law that endangers lives of vulnerable people, including women and children.
According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Greece has been pursuing a "systematic policy" on pushbacks with the involvement of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).
Greek authorities have pushed back at least 80,000 asylum seekers to Turkey in the last four years, the ministry said earlier this year.
Agnes Szucs contributed to the story from Brussels -



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