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Written by Ulrike Schmidt, Country Coordinator for the Balkans


On 14th June 2023, the “Adriana” packed with an estimated 750 refugees sank off the coast of Pylos, Greece.  Over 600 people including many children drowned. Amnesty’s investigation points to the actions of the Greek coastguard contributing to the sinking of the boat and the huge loss of life.


Join the vigil at the Embassy of Greece on Friday 14th June 2024  at 6pm

Embassy of Greece, 1a Holland Park London W11 3TP


More information and link to on-line action :


Please watch the video with statements by survivors from our Facebook page


War, oppression and persecution are forcing people: men, women, children, to leave their homes and seek safety and a future for their children in another country. The vast majority of refugees are hosted in developing countries.


Few take the perilous and dangerous journey to reach Europe lured by the promise of democracy, rule of law and respect for Human Rights. They are let down badly.

At the external borders in Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Hungary, refugees experience brutality at the hands of the border police, who are briefed to keep refugees out. Families and unaccompanied children are languishing in overcrowded tents which are frequently flooded with little water and sanitation on the Greek islands.

Worse: the European Union and Frontex are cooperating with Libya at keeping refugees out of Europe no matter what the human cost. Surveillance drones and planes are directing the Libyan coastguard to the little boats full of refugees desperate to escape the hell of Libyan detention camps.  Once caught a terrible fate awaits most. Women and girls are abused and raped . All face inhuman conditions in overcrowded detention camps with little food, water and sanitation. Many are forced to work under inhuman conditions, torture and extortion are rife. Some refugees die, we don’t know how many.

People and organizations who try to rescue refugees are criminalised. The Iuventa, the ship owned by the NGO Jugend Rettet saved thousands of lives, but has now been impounded in the Italian port of Trapani for years. The crew and Human Rights defenders from Medicins sans Frontieres, Save the Children and Jugend Rettet had to endure years of court proceedings. The El Hiblu 3 are in the dock now, charged with very serious crimes, just for acting as mediators and translators, saving many peoples lives. In 2019 they boarded together, with another 110 people, a small dinghy from Libya to escape to Europe. The overloaded dinghy ran into trouble and an oil tanker rescued the people on board, promising to bring them to Italy. When in the morning, though some refugees, they realized they were heading to Libya, panic broke out. The three youngsters, then 15, 16 and 19 years old and speaking several languages, were mediating between the refugees and the captain. After explaining the horrors of being returned to Libya to the captain, he agreed to bring the refugees to Malta. However in order to avoid a fine, he blamed the youngsters for entering Maltese waters. The Amnesty Europe team is campaigning for the El Hiblu 3, please email me if you want to get involved.

The policies of deterrence by terrorizing refugees, employed by our governments Rwanda policy as well as violent pushbacks in the Mediterranean sea are cruel, barbaric and inhumane. We are calling for safe and legal routes for all refugees.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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