A Turkish coast guard vessel picks up a migrant boat in the Aegean Sea | Photo: Picture-alliance/AA/B.Akay
A Turkish coast guard vessel picks up a migrant boat in the Aegean Sea | Photo: Picture-alliance/AA/B.Akay

In the early hours of Monday morning, the Turkish coast guard reported that it had rescued 35 migrants after their boat began taking on water in the Aegean Sea. Searches continue for four people reported missing from the boat.

The rescue of 35 migrants took place in the early hours of Monday, June 29, around 1.6 kilometers from the Turkish island of Ciplak in the Aegean Sea, reported the news agency dpa. During the rescue, the migrants on board reported four more migrants missing and the Turkish coast guard deployed boats, divers and a helicopter to search the area where the boat was found.

The Turkish coast guard's statement said that those rescued alleged they had "been pushed back into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek coast guard," reported dpa and Reuters. They said that the Greek agents "slashed their boat and took away their fuel." This claim was denied by the Greek coast guard which told Reuters: "The migrant boat never entered Greek territorial waters. There was never any contact between a Greek coastguard ship and the migrants' boat."

The Turkish coastguard did not reveal the nationalities of the migrants on board, stated Reuters.

Greek pushbacks?

A Facebook user contacted InfoMigrants with similar claims, saying that the migrants on board alleged that "Greek coast guard elements" had "cut their rubber boats." An unverified video was included in the message, which appeared to have been shot on a mobile phone. 

It shows several people being pulled out of the water by what looks like coast guards and transferred onto a boat with a Turkish flag. Remnants of a rubber boat are pulled from the water, and the coast guards point to apparent slits. The holes were marked in the video in post-production. The video ends with a statement by a man speaking in Turkish, saying that the Greek coast guards took away the motor of the boat along with the petrol and slit open the rubber boat with a knife and abandoned the migrants in the sea.

The video could not be independently verified and there is no date on the video.

Four people still missing

The organization Alarm Phone also tweeted about the incident asking "What happened to them?" referring to the four people who appear to be missing.

Allegations of pushbacks, like those described in the Turkish coastguard report by Greek forces, have been reported. Most recently from early June, two incidents were highlighted in a special DW investigation.

According to that investigation, one of the dinghies containing masked men deployed to push back a group of migrants does belong to the Greek coastguard. However, Greece "continues to reject any assertion that it is using illegal methods against refugees and migrants arriving in its waters."

 

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