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Monday, June 17, 2024

Survivors of Greece migrant boat tragedy accuse coastguard of negligence

Survivors of a migrant boat that capsized near the Greek island of Crete on Tuesday have accused the Greek coastguard of negligence, saying that a rope thrown by a patrol vessel caused the boat to overturn.

According to the survivors, who spoke to Reuters and other media outlets, the coastguard vessel approached the migrant boat, which was carrying about 40 people, and threw a rope to tow it. However, the rope got tangled around the propeller of the migrant boat, causing it to lose balance and flip over.

The survivors said that the coastguard crew did not immediately help them and instead fired warning shots in the air. They also claimed that some of their belongings, including money and phones, were taken by the coastguard.

The Greek coastguard denied the allegations, saying that they followed the standard procedure for rescuing migrants at sea and that they acted with professionalism and respect for human rights. They said that they threw a rope to the migrant boat only after it started sinking and that they rescued 37 people and recovered three bodies.

The coastguard also said that they found no evidence of any belongings being taken from the survivors and that they handed over all their personal items to the authorities.

The incident has sparked outrage among human rights groups and migrant advocates, who have called for an independent investigation into the coastguard’s actions and accountability for any wrongdoing.

Greece is one of the main entry points for migrants and refugees fleeing war, poverty and persecution in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The country has been struggling to cope with the influx of arrivals, especially since Turkey opened its borders in February 2020, triggering a new migration crisis.

The European Union has been providing financial and operational support to Greece to manage the migration flows and improve the living conditions of asylum seekers. However, many migrants still face long delays in processing their claims, overcrowding in camps and hostility from some locals.

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