Attack by Greek coastguards on Syrian refugees in the Aegean Sea, rescued by Turkey

09.08.2015 / 18:53 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations - 8th of August 2015

Case name: 2015_08_08-AEG34
Situation: Presumably 2 vessels approached by armed and masked Greek coastguards who took away the patrol and money of the travellers in one case; after hours in distress at sea, both vessels were rescued by the Turkish coastguard
Status of WTM Investigations: Open
Place of Incidents: Aegean Sea, Greece

Summary of the case: On the Saturday the 8th of August 2015, in the morning, the Alarm Phone was notified by Nawal Soufi’s activist collective about a distress situation in the Aegean Sea. They told our shift team that a group of travellers, in total about 25 people, had been stopped at sea by armed Greek coastguards who stole their money and took way their petrol. The coastguard left them behind in the middle of the sea. At first, the travellers themselves could not be reached. We then contacted the Greek coastguard and they merely stated that the vessel was still in Turkish water so that we should turn to the Turkish authorities. A few hours later the activist collective informed us that they had been able to re-establish direct contact to the passengers who had already been saved by the Turkish coastguard and been returned to Turkey.

In the early evening we were able to establish direct contact, via WhatsApp, to one of the travellers who had been brought back to Turkey. He reported that they had been at sea for three hours until the Turkish coastguard found and rescued them. They were 25 people, including 3 women and 2 children. He clearly stated that the Greek coastguard took away their petrol, making it impossible for them to move on. Three armed men wearing face-masks “told us to raise our hands and then asked to have the gasoline”. He said that they handed it over as they were afraid for the children on board. Our contact person also reported that he met others who had been returned to Turkey and who had also been attacked, even more violently, by Greek coastguards. Following his account they had been approached by a small vessel that was part of a larger vessel and their patrol was taken away, too. Our contact person said that all the travellers were Syrians which they had also made known to the Greek coastguard.
Credibility: UP DOWN 0
Layers »
  • Border police patrols
    While the exact location of patrols is of course constantly changing, this line indicates the approximate boundary routinely patrolled by border guards’ naval assets. In the open sea, it usually correspond to the outer extent of the contiguous zone, the area in which “State may exercise the control necessary to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws” (UNCLOS, art. 33). Data source: interviews with border police officials.
  • Coastal radars
    Approximate radar beam range covered by coastal radars operating in the frame of national marine traffic monitoring systems. The actual beam depends from several different parameters (including the type of object to be detected). Data source: Finmeccanica.
  • Exclusive Economic Zone
    Maritime area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea in which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, the seabed and its subsoil and the superjacent waters. Its breadth is 200 nautical miles from the straight baselines from which the territorial sea is measured (UNCLOS, Arts. 55, 56 and 57). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans
  • Frontex operations
    Frontex has, in the past few years, carried out several sea operations at the maritime borders of the EU. The blue shapes indicate the approximate extend of these operations. Data source: Migreurop Altas.
  • Mobile phone coverage
    Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network coverage. Data source: Collins Mobile Coverage.
  • Oil and gas platforms
    Oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean. Data source:
  • Search and Rescue Zone
    An area of defined dimensions within which a given state is has the responsibility to co-ordinate Search and Rescue operations, i.e. the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger. Data source: IMO availability of search and rescue (SAR) services - SAR.8/Circ.3, 17 June 2011.
  • Territorial Waters
    A belt of sea (usually extending up to 12 nautical miles) upon which the sovereignty of a coastal State extends (UNCLOS, Art. 2). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans