Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, published a report on Thursday shedding light on the physical violence experienced by asylum-seekers upon reaching Greece, such as beatings and being forcefully returned to sea. The report urges Greece to bolster its efforts in maritime search and rescue operations for migrants.For years, Greece has served as a primary entry point to the European Union for refugees and migrants from regions like the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It has faced accusations from aid organizations and the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR. These allegations pertain to the forceful expulsion of migrants at both its sea and land borders, recognized as “pushbacks,” a practice deemed illegal.Drawing on extensive medical data, patient testimonies and operational insights from August 2021 to July 2023, the MSF report asserts that this grave lack of assistance and backdrop of violence endangers the lives of those seeking refuge.At the islands of Samos and Lesbos, MSF grapples with the medical and humanitarian needs of arrivals, offering aid in conjunction with other organizations. Testimonies from MSF patients narrate accounts of pushbacks ranging from physical assaults to strip searches perpetrated by uniformed and masked individuals. MSF asserts that these acts compound existing vulnerabilities and escalate pre-existing health conditions, both physical and psychological, posing grave threats to the well-being of asylum-seekers.MSF’s report suggests that despite increased arrivals, violent episodes continue unabated, leading to accounts of multiple pushbacks, violent tactics and a nearly complete absence of aid. The report calls for humane treatment, an end to violent border practices and a dedicated effort to provide access to fair asylum procedures.

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