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UN Agency Asks Probe of Alleged Refugee Pushbacks by Greece

ATHENS — The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has asked for an investigation into whether Greece pushed back refugees and migrants in boats and across land borders and wants the end of forced deportations.

A number of human rights groups, major media and non-governmental organizations have repeatedly made the claim that was denied by Greece and the EU’s border patrol FRONTEX, which is being investigated as well.

“UNHCR has received a continuous stream of reports of some European states restricting access to asylum, returning people after they have reached territory or territorial waters, and using violence against them at borders,” the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, said.

She said reports are describing boats carrying refugees being towed back and people are being rounded-up after they land and then pushed back to sea, said Kathimerini, although it wasn’t said if any proof was produced.

While countries have the legitimate right to manage their borders in accordance with international law, “they must also respect human rights. Pushbacks are simply illegal,” she noted.

“UNHCR has made its concerns clear to European states. The refugee agency calls for urgent inquiries into alleged violations and mistreatment based on credible testimonies that are corroborated by non-governmental organizations, media and open-source reporting,” she said of the allegation.

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