Press Release - The investigation concerning the boat wreck of 20th January 2014 near Farmakonisi, when 11 people lost their lives continues



The investigation concerning the boat wreck of 20th January 2014 near Farmakonisi, when 11 people lost their lives continues


The Greek Council for Refugees, together with many other national and international organisations have repeatedly denounced the illegal practice of refoulement of refugees (push-backs), which violates international refugee law, while also endangering human lives. 

Following the boat wreck in Farmakonisi and the death of 11 people (3 women and 8 children), GCR demands that an end be put to the dangerous and illegal push-back practices on Europe’s maritime borders and calls for the creation of sufficient protection and reception conditions for those who seek international protection, according to national and European law.


According to Ms. Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, “we have to repeat the issue of push-backs at every opportunity […]. Recently there have been push-backs of asylum seekers in this country and others as well. This is very alarming and we ask all countries to examine these allegations – the existing information. We hope that light will be shed on the terrible incident that took place in Farmakonisi a few weeks ago in Greece”. 

In this particular case, which highlights the issue of the safe entry of refugees in Europe, investigations on the persons that should be held accountable are taking place concerning amongst other things: the capsizing of the boat, the death of the victims, the jeopardizing of the survivor’s lives including the continuation of the procedures for the detection and identification of victims.

The three men who lost their families in their desperate attempt to protect them from the dangers they were facing in Afghanistan, as well as the remaining survivors, claim, among other extremely problematic incidents, that the boat wreck occurred during a push-back operation conducted by the Hellenic Coast Guard which was leading them towards Turkey. As they explain, the lights of their destination were clearly visible during the towing but they were not those of the small Greek island.

Respectively, those responsible for the actions that led to the boat wreck and the death of 11 people, after the tracking of the boat containing refugees by the Greek authorities within Greek territorial waters, should be investigated.

In a letter dated 27th January 2014, GCR asked the competent authorities to take immediate action in order to locate the boat and the missing people, as almost a week after the wreck there was no information concerning any process for the identification of the boat’s location, nor did the survivors have any information about the fate of their missing relatives.

According to official data, 8 bodies have been dragged from the location of the wreck (on 7-2-2014 and on 18-2-2014) and on 20-2-2014 the results of the DNA test for the first 4 were released.

Two more bodies (a woman and a child) had been located during the first days following the wreck near the Turkish coasts.

The location and identification of all of the victims’ bodies still remains the survivors’ imperative demand.

The delay of identification does not allow for the initiation of the burial of the dead, a fact which further worsens the relatives of the victims’ already difficult psychological situation.

Meanwhile, following a request from GCR concerning the completion of the above procedures, the Greek Police Headquarters (Migration Office) granted the survivors – to whom our organization provides legal and social support, as well as interpretation services- a six month suspension of their deportation. Specifically, the survivors of Afghan origin were given the possibility to extend their legal stay in Greece for 6 months. For survivors coming from Syria the enforcement of expulsion measures had already been suspended for 6 months (measure applied to all citizens of Syria).

The above decision does not constitute a residence permit and therefore further actions are required aiming at the provision of international protection for the survivors either in Greece or another EU Member State.





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