After several days and following pressure and general outcry, Greek authorities announced that they had found the stranded refugees in Evros river. In the previous days Greek Police had announced that they could could not locate the refugees, denying at the same time that they were on Greek territory.
“After new information and extensive investigations, a group of irregular immigrants, according to their statement from Syria, consisting of 22 men, 9 women incl one pregnant and 7 children, was located in the area of Lavara,” a Greke Police statement said on Monday.
It added that “the specific point is approximately 4 kilometers south, from the coordinates outside the Greek territory, which were declared as the initial position days ago. From the moment of their detection, the necessary police forces and all other state services have rushed to their aid, to treat the immigrants, provide them with food and water and transport them to a place of temporary accommodation.”
!! SOS Update #εβρος:
1/ The group of 39 Syrians at the islet is now 100% on Greek territory.
They crossed over to the Greek bank of the river today.
They are now at this location according to metadata from their photos. pic.twitter.com/9WEIwWJnuP
— Giorgos Christides (@g_christides) August 15, 2022
Migration and Asylum Minister, Notis Mitarakis, posted on Twitter that the refugees are in good health, while the pregnant woman was taken to a hospital.
@hellenicpolice found the 38 migrants on Greek territory, 4km south of the Turkish islet in #Evros, as well as a boat that transported them. They define themselves as Syrians, they are in a very good condition, and the pregnant woman is being taken to the hospital as a precaution
— Νότης Μηταράκης – Notis Mitarachi (@nmitarakis) August 15, 2022
It is noted that today the refugees crossed over to the Greek side of the river, after a period of more than a week since they found themselves on the islet of Evros east of the settlement of Kissari – and after waiting in vain to be rescued by the authorities who claim that they failed to rescue them given that the islet did not belong to the Greek territory.
Several people have asked how they got a boat. They say a group of Afghans passed them in it, and when they reached the shore, pushed it back so the Syrians were able to use it. They did not have it on Friday when we first reported the story. https://t.co/x2xy0WCiL6
— Lindsey Hilsum (@lindseyhilsum) August 15, 2022
According to newspaper efimerida ton syntakton, it was the second time since July 14 that the group had landed on the islet. The refugees’ odyssey included a violent operation by Greek authorities, a total of 3 deaths plus of a 5-year-old girl that was stung by a scorpion, deportation to Turkey and return to the Evros islet.
The indifference of Greek authorities to appeals to rescue the group have been targeted by the European press, organizations, Amnesty international and social media users, who expressed anger and indignation and raise serious questions about the at least belated and contradictory attitude.