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Blatant lack of information and investigation, one month after the shipwreck in Pylos, Greece

Today marks a month after the tragic shipwreck of Pylos, which has already recorded 82 dead and hundreds of missing. The competent authorities remain blatantly silent regarding the information about the circumstances that led to the death of more than 600 people, as well as the investigation into acts and/or omissions of the Greek Coast Guard and of FRONTEX.

In the meantime, survivors of the shipwreck, immediately after witnessing death and the loss of relatives, friends and fellow passengers, were initially treated as “irregular entrants” instead of receiving the necessary care for their reception and support as vulnerable persons experiencing severe trauma: During their stay in the Port of Kalamata, survivors were piled up in detention conditions in a warehouse, where they slept on the floor and were not allowed to go out even to contact their relatives/acquaintances who were arriving in shock from other countries. The picture of the heartbreaking meeting of two brothers and their embrace behind bars, is indicative of the unacceptable treatment these people received by the competent authorities. Furthermore, even those hospitalised in the Kalamata Hospital were not given the opportunity to meet their relatives, as the authorities claimed that they were detained.

Subsequently, only a few days after being transferred to the Malakasa Reception and Identification Centre(RIC) and despite their classification as vulnerable persons, survivors remained in detention until they received asylum seekers’ cards and were not referred to facilities for vulnerable persons – these have of course been dismantled since the termination of the ESTIA programme. They were subjected to the demanding process of asylum interviews under extremely truncated procedures without sufficient time for preparation, legal assistance or appropriate psychosocial support. Survivors were asked to detail the reasons for fleeing their countries in interviews that do not meet basic procedural guarantees for vulnerable persons, conducted in containers of the Malakasa RIC via mobile phones, without the physical presence of the operators and interpreters of the Asylum Service and without audio-recording, as required by the Greek Asylum Code. These issues have been raised with the Greek authorities by legal organisations.

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) has undertaken the legal assistance and representation of shipwreck survivors and victims’ relatives from day one.

It is our duty to restate the obvious, one month after the shipwreck:

  • Enough is enough! Human lives must finally be respected – no more deaths.
  • An independent, thorough and effective investigation into the circumstances of the shipwreck must be carried out, taking into account the questions arising from published testimonies and media investigations in relation to acts and/or omissions of the competent authorities.
  • Regular and transparent official information must be provided on the process and findings of the investigation.
  • The survivors of the shipwreck must be referred to appropriate facilities, benefit from fast-track family reunification procedures for those who have family members in other European countries, and receive international protection.

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) will stand by the survivors and the relatives of the victims throughout all stages of the process, in order for justice to be served.

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