In Greece, MEP testifies about refoulement of refugees to Turkey

“When we got out of the boat, we heard gunshots, we climbed into the mountains. We were five adults and we could run… But the other nineteen people, including three children, disappeared ”, testifies a young Somali, in a video posted Friday November 5 on Twitter by Cornelia Ernst, member of the German party of left Die Linke.

During his three-day visit accompanied by a delegation from the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, to Greece, and in particular on the island of Samos, where a new ultra-secure camp was inaugurated in early September, the MEP met five Somali refugees who claim to have escaped refoulement to Turkey. A practice contrary to international and European law which consists in not registering asylum seekers in Greece and forcibly returning them to Turkish territorial waters.

Police who “intimidate”

On November 3, when Cornelia Ernst and her colleagues met several NGOs in Samos, a lawyer and aid workers from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) informed them that“At this very moment on the island a group of people are afraid of being turned away and have called an emergency telephone line to ask for help”. Cornelia Ernst said then that she took the “Personal decision” to follow aid workers to see with their own eyes what was happening. The delegation followed the program that was planned for their visit and did not wish to join the expedition.

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With three MSF members, the MEP therefore goes to the location indicated on the emergency number by asylum seekers. At first, the police do not let them pass, but Cornelia Ernst shows her membership card of the European Parliament. “There were at least four police cars around the site, (…) some policemen had uniforms, some did not. Two men in blue uniforms without insignia wore black masks covering their faces ”, describes the chosen one.

After fifteen to twenty minutes of research, four men and a woman emerge from the bushes. “They said they were Somalis and that they had arrived during the night with nineteen other people whom they lost to follow up after disembarking. Among them were women and three children ”, explains Cornelia Ernst. Frightened, the asylum seekers went into hiding for fear of being forcibly returned to Turkey by the police.

“When we go to do this type of intervention, which unfortunately happens more and more often, we take with us clothes, water, food, because the refugees are soaked, dehydrated, and they have cold “, underlines Patrick Wieland, MSF head of mission in Samos.

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