Tourists have found two bodies on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. They reportedly belonged to two male migrants who attempted to reach Greece from Turkey. The Greek coast guard, meanwhile, says it has prevented more than a thousand migrants from arriving in Greece over the weekend.
According to Greek media reports on June 27, the two bodies found on the beach on Lesbos belonged to two male migrants. The Greek coast guard confirmed the incident, which reportedly occurred the prior day.
The two men presumably died while trying to cross the Aegean Sea between the Turkish west coast and the island of Lesbos. German news agency dpa cited the Greek news portal in.gr as reporting that the bodies were to be forensically examined to determine the exact cause of death.
A week earlier, on June 20, Greek authorities had rescued more than 164 people trying to sail to the Greek Islands from Turkey. Eight others from that group remain missing, and are believed to have drowned in the sea.
Over the past few weeks, authorities have registered a rise in attempted crossings from Turkey to Greece as well as from Turkey directly to Italy via Greek territorial waters.
According to UN migration agency IOM, nearly 2,900 migrants have arrived in Greece so far this year, around half of whom are reported to have journeyed by sea. Last year, over 9,000 arrivals were registered across the entire year.
Criticism over illegal pushbacks
The Greek coast guard is trying to prevent the crossings by means of well-documented pushbacks which aid organizations and UN agencies have been criticizing for years. However, the Greek government in Athens rejects these allegations and instead accuses Turkey of sending the boats deliberately towards the Greek islands.
According to the EU-Turkey deal from 2016, Turkey is supposed to prevent migrants and refugees from leaving the country in return for financial assistance. Under the terms of the deal, Turkey is considered a safe third country for refugees and migrants to be housed.
Citing the Greek coast guard, Spanish news agency EFE reported on June 27 that Greek coast guard units had prevented at least 1,130 migrants from entering Greek territorial waters over the weekend. According to EFE, the largest number of prevented arrivals was to the island of Lesbos, which a total of 745 migrants were reported to have tried to reach in 16 boats.
"After early detection, none of the mentioned ships managed to enter Greek territorial waters and all foreign passengers were picked up by Turkish ships," said a statement by the coast guard.
On Friday, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, presented a report in which he expressed concerns over pushbacks by Greek authorities.
According to the report, at least 17,000 people were forcibly returned to Turkey this way during the 2020-2021 period. Moreover, Greece allegedly dissuaded more than 140,000 people from entering the country between April and November 2021.
with dpa, EFE