Greek Minister accuses Turkish coast guard of not assisting refugees and immigrants in distress near Lesvos

The Minister said the information was based on some of the survivors’ testimonies after being rescued by the Greek coast guard

Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis accused the Turkish coast guard of refusing to offer assistance to 34 refugees and illegal migrants detected near the coast of Lesvos.

The Greek Coast Guard rescued 32 of them, while two have gone missing and the search in the sea area continues. The Minister of Immigration and Asylum, in a statement, also raised the issue of the activities of NGOs in the area.

“I express my sorrow for the accident today in Lesvos and the loss of human lives, despite the immediate operation of the Coast Guard, which rescued 32 passengers, in the fatal boat”, Mitarakis said in his statement.

He went on to berate those turning a blind eye and allowing inflatable boats “that do not meet any safety requirements and are driven by people without permission and knowledge of the rules of the sea to try to cross the Aegean”.

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“Those who allow it, in addition to violating the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration, are, unfortunately knowingly, putting human lives at great risk. It is clear from the testimonies of the survivors that a Turkish coastguard boat that located them – after the boat called to the emergency number – did not help them, did not rescue them, but allowed them to cross the maritime borders of the European Union illegally.”

Mitarakis continued by pointing out that NGOs that were involved in these paths should be aware of their real role, and must immediately stop contributing, perhaps unintentionally, to the loss of human lives.

“The international community must, with crucial and strict interventions, protect human lives, contributing substantially to the complete end of the illegal routes of traffickers.”