What the Aegean Sea really is

On 11th February, NATO decided to dispatch naval and air forces to conduct surveillance in the Aegean sea and to share information on vessel movements in Turkish and Greek territorial waters with Frontex. FIDH and other human rights organisations have repeatedly reported numerous violations of human rights, in particular collective expulsions carried out by the Greek coastguards without any assessment of each migrant’s individual situation and needs for protection before returning them to Turkey. Frontex has neither investigated nor followed up on allegations of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated during operations it coordinates, nor has it suspended said operations, owing to grave and persistent violations of human rights, as its internal rules permit. No independent complaint mechanism has been established to which victims can turn to and file their claims. These practices violate international and European law and, in particular, the right to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in various international human rights law instruments that prohibit States from returning individuals to a country where they would be at risk of persecution or other human rights violations.

Obsessing over border security and militarizing the Aegean sea is not the answer. Increased surveillance of the area will only push migrants to take other more dangerous routes and lead to more violations and deaths. Increasing safe and legal channels to the EU and its resettlement capacity can be the only response to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at Europe’s door. Far-reaching changes to European migration policy are urgently required to ensure it is human rights-based.

Read ‘What Greece really is’ by Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH Vice President

Read ‘What Turkey really is’ by Yusuf Alataş, FIDH Vice President

Read ‘What the EU really is’ by Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

Read more