The European Commission expects Greek authorities to investigate allegations of pushbacks of asylum-seekers by border guards, including recent reports of an incident leading to the death of five children, an EU official told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Coast Guard found the lifeless bodies of six irregular migrants – two babies, three children, and a woman – while rescuing 73 migrants on four life rafts in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish coast.
The rescued migrants told officials that they had been pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces.
“We regret any loss of lives and recall the fundamental importance of ensuring all measures are taken to prevent such tragedies, as on the one recently reported by Turkey,” Anitta Hipper, the European Commission spokesperson for home affairs, told Anadolu Agency.
The EU executive body “expects the national authorities to investigate any allegations, with a view to establishing the facts and properly follow-up any possible wrongdoing,” she added.
Hipper also confirmed that the European Commission repeatedly calls on EU members “to comply with the relevant laws ensuring that those in distress at sea are brought to safety as rapidly as possible.”
Since 2015, human rights groups and leading media outlets have frequently reported illegal pushbacks and other human rights breaches of Greek authorities, as well as the complicity of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in these acts violating EU and international law. Türkiye has repeatedly condemned the practice as illegal and inhumane.
Türkiye has been a key transit point for asylum seekers wanting to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.