Greek coast guard deliberately pierced migrant boat: Turkish fishermen
The Greek coast guards allegedly tried to sink a boat carrying dozens of Syrian refugees in the Aegean Sea, a group of Turkish fishermen say.
The fishermen who were reportedly present at the site of the incident told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News that the Greek forces sank the inflatable migrant dinghy by deliberately “piercing it with a lance.”
According to the report, the attack took place a few days ago after the boat carrying around 50 Syrian migrants set off from the Turkish coast of Izmir, but was intercepted before reaching its destination in the Greek islands of Kos and Lesbos.
The fishermen also released a video footage to substantiate their claim. The film shows a Greek patrol vessel approaching the rubber boat; however, no visible contact can be detected between the guards and the migrant ferry.
The migrants took to the sea after the attack and were all rescued by the fishing vessel and the Turkish Coast Guard, the report added.
A spokesperson for the Greek Coast Guard strongly denied the allegation, saying that no such incident happened.
Athens also claimed that the country’s forces had rescued over 600 refugees from Kos, Lesbos, Chios, Samothraki, and Rhodes islands in the Aegean Sea on Thursday and Friday.
The Turkish report came days after Greek forces used batons and fire extinguishers to contain infighting among migrants in Kos on August 11.
This is while, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Athens last month to adopt a more lenient approach towards the refugees.
“Such a level of suffering should and can be avoided. The Greek authorities need to urgently designate a single body to coordinate response and set up an adequate humanitarian assistance mechanism,” said Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s Director of the Bureau for Europe.
According to Cochetel (seen above), 124,000 refugees fleeing conflict zones have arrived by sea mostly in the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros, and Kos from Turkey since January 2015, marking a 750-percent surge in the number of migrants coming to the country compared to the previous year.