ECF member Greek Forum of Refugees is a founding member of the campaign for asylum access, which advocates for the right of asylum seekers to have access to a fair and effective asylum system. This statement originally appeared here.
Athens, 16 June 2023
Seventy-eight (78) people dead and more than 500 missing after the shipwreck off the coast of Pylos are seeking justice against a policy of deterrence that led them to the bottom of the Mediterranean.
Just a few days after an agreement was reached at the Council of Ministers of the EU on the management of migration and asylum, both Frontex and the Greek Coast Guard, which had the responsibility for coordinating search and rescue, failed to provide adequate assistance to an unseaworthy vesselcarrying more than 500 people that was in distress for almost a full day, from the time they were informed, resulting in it sinking and dragging hundreds of people into its watery grave.
The shipwreck, however much it is attempted to be attributed to human errors and unscrupulous smugglers, bears the signature and the stamp of the policies of the European Union that are implemented with great consistency by the governments of countries at Europe’s borders, as is particularly the case of the Greek government.
Multiple questions arise about the actions of the competent authorities as well as Frontex itself, which from the very first moment was monitoring the vessel, but was quick to deny its responsibilities, pointing exclusively to the Hellenic Search and Rescue Coordination Centre.
Once again it is sadly necessary to point out that defending the principles of the Rule of Law and Democracy requires first and foremost respect for human life and dignity.