UN emphasizes 'international obligations' after migrant deaths in Greek pushback
Search and rescue at sea, timely disembarkation are international obligations crucial to prevent loss of life, says UNHCR spokesperson.
The UN refugee agency on Wednesday said countries are bound by “international obligations” to prevent the deaths of migrants at sea.
“Search and rescue at sea, and timely disembarkation are international obligations and are crucial to prevent further loss of life,” Shabia Mantoo told Anadolu Agency when asked for comments on the deaths of six irregular migrants pushed back by Greek forces.
The Turkish Coast Guard late Tuesday found the lifeless bodies of six irregular migrants – two babies, three children and a woman – while rescuing 73 migrants on four life rafts off the Turkish coast of Marmaris.
The rescued migrants told officials that they were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces.
“UNHCR does not have confirmed data regarding deaths related to reported pushbacks,” Mantoo said.
“This loss of life is unacceptable. We continue to reiterate the urgent need to reinstate timely and efficient state-led search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean.”
She said “more than 1,300 people are estimated dead or missing at sea attempting to reach Europe through the Mediterranean and Northwest African Routes” since the beginning of 2022.
Ankara and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing asylum seekers back into Turkish waters and denying them entry to Greece, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
The EU border agency Frontex has been credibly accused of involvement in the illegal practice.
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.