Video shows distressed migrant boat in Greek waters being pushed back by EU's border agency and Greek coast guard, followed by Turkish rescue of asylum seekers.

Screengrab of ZDF's video of migrants who were pushed back to sea by EU border agency and Greek coast guard in Aegean Sea on April 6, 2021.
Screengrab of ZDF's video of migrants who were pushed back to sea by EU border agency and Greek coast guard in Aegean Sea on April 6, 2021. (Screenshot / ZDF video)

A German TV news team has witnessed an illegal migrant pushback in the Aegean sea by EU's border agency and the Greek coast guard, during a patrol with the Turkish coast guard.

ZDF, a German public-service TV, released a video on Tuesday showing a migrant boat in Greek waters being pushed back by Frontex and Greek navy boats, and finally Turkish boats rescuing the asylum seekers. 

When contacted by ZDF, Frontex said it's under the command of the Greek authorities while the Greek officials claimed the pushing back of asylum seekers is compatible with international law. 

A migrant woman of Afghan origin told the ZDF reporters that she and her children reached the Greek island once but were pushed back into the sea in a plastic boat to Turkey.

A Palestinian migrant aboard the rubber dinghy said that Greek coast guards beat them with sticks and told them to go back to where they came from in an interview with the channel.

READ MORE: Growing wave of criticism says Frontex complicit in abuse at Greek border

New video footage

ZDF's video footage shows 22 refugees aboard a plastic boat, without a motor, drifting at sea at night. 

The video also shows the group of migrants brought to the port of Dikili by the Turkish coast guard.

The refugees said Greek border troops tried to deliberately sink their boat as well. 

In another incident recorded by ZDF, a rubber dinghy off Lesvos was pushed towards Turkish territory by a Greek task force in broad daylight.

Turkish communications director Fahrettin Altun shared ZDF's video on his Twitter account, and called the recurring incidents in the Aegean a "tragedy" and pointed to the responsibility of Greece. 

Illegal migrant pushbacks

The EU's border agency has come under fire of being complicit in crimes against migrants at the Greek maritime border.

Last month, a Human Rights Watch statement said Frontex’s response to the allegations that its border patrols were involved in the pushbacks of asylum seekers, raises questions regarding the agency's willingness to hold itself accountable. 

Mare Liberum, a German NGO, last year accused Frontex of being complicit in "systematic and illegal expulsions" of the Greek coast guard that is systematically pushing migrants back towards Turkey. 

A report in October 2020, released after a joint media investigation, also repeated the same sentiment saying that Frontex was actively involved in the pushbacks by the Greeks. 

Another german NGO, FragDenStaat, said that Frontex tried to prevent these claims from being publicised once again.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says it has received a growing number of reports in recent months suggesting asylum-seekers may have been pushed back to Turkey at sea or immediately after reaching Greek soil, or left adrift at sea.

READ MORE: Turkey accuses Greece of leaving migrants for dead in Aegean Sea 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies