Frontex accuses Greece of negligence in final yr's Ionian shipwreck with greater than 600 victims | International | EUROtoday

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On the night time of June 13-14, 2023, fishing vessel Adriana It sank 80 kilometers off the Greek coast. 750 migrants had been touring in it. Neither ladies nor youngsters, the bulk on the boat, survived, in keeping with the 104 rescued folks (47 Syrians, 43 Egyptians, 12 Pakistanis and two Palestinians). A report from the European Border Agency (Frontex) now denounces, greater than half a yr after one of many best tragedies within the Mediterranean, that the target of the Greek authorities was to not forestall the shipwreck and that they didn’t mobilize sufficient assets to save lots of their lives once they nonetheless might. The doc additionally reveals the dearth of collaboration of the Greek Government within the investigation.

Frontex factors out severe negligence on the a part of the Greek authorities each within the prevention of the incident and within the search and rescue operation following it. The boat, which was leaving Libya sure for Italy, was lastly rescued by a luxurious yacht that occurred to be within the space.

The report, identified now however dated December 1, 2023 and categorised as delicate info, was ready by the company's Office for Fundamental Rights (ODF) as a part of an inside investigation into the tragedy. It was revealed on her X account (previously Twitter) by the Brussels-based journalist Eleonora Vasques and consists of 17 pages. The company has censored some phrases, however has added labels to know the crossouts; These are the right names of the company's operatives or the Greek coast guard.

Krzysztof Borowski, Frontex spokesperson, has confirmed to EL PAÍS the veracity of the doc, however has clarified that the ODF is an impartial physique inside Frontex and that its statements don’t essentially mirror the place of the company. “Apart from this, what happened with the Adriana “It is a terrible tragedy and we hope that something like this does not happen again,” he indicated.

The Office for Fundamental Rights claims that Greece deployed “insufficient and inappropriate resources considering the number of passengers on board the Adriana“, and did not use “the resources offered by Frontex.” In addition, he accuses the country's authorities of delaying the declaration of the search and rescue (SAR) operation “until the moment of the shipwreck, when it was no longer possible to rescue all the people on board,” despite that “there was reasonable certainty” that they had been “threatened by serious and imminent danger and required immediate assistance.”

The report directly points to the Piraeus Unified Rescue and Coordination Center (JRCC) as responsible for the negligence: “The Fundamental Rights Office does not know how the Piraeus JRCC monitored, evaluated and concluded that it was not necessary to launch immediately a SAR case after receiving the Frontex sighting.” According to the report, it is up to the JRCC to “determine the status of the vessel, coordinate or provide assistance, and potentially declare a search and rescue (SAR) operation.”

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Although it states that the migrants probably initially rejected the assistance offered by the coast guard to continue their route to Italy, Frontex assures that the Greek authorities determined that the Adriana he needed assistance and they instructed commercial vessels in the vicinity to provide him with supplies. The report considers that the two documented attempts were unsuccessful and aggravated the danger to the vessel. “The second attempt to provide food and water caused dangerous swaying,” the document says.

Frontex's reproaches to Greece do not end there. “The Office for Fundamental Rights regrets that it has not been provided with relevant information by the Greek authorities in response to its investigation, but looks forward to receiving the results of two ongoing national judicial proceedings, as well as the investigation by the Greek Ombudsman.” , writes in the conclusions. In a previous point he states that “he is aware of the existence of national investigative efforts, but does not have sufficient information to evaluate them”, in reference to the ongoing judicial proceedings and an investigation by the Ombudsman initiated by the “express refusal of the Coast Guard to initiate a disciplinary investigation,” according to the report.

The Office of Fundamental Rights wants Frontex to review procedures to assess similar cases more comprehensively “based on the need to issue a distress alert, especially when the competent national authorities do not provide information on their assessment of the situation.” The objective would be to “declare that the vessel is in danger or initiate a search and rescue operation” without depending on the speed with which Greece, Italy or any of the countries where a shipwreck of boats carrying migrants are traveling may declare the emergency. .

Unresolved issues

The report does not resolve some of the controversies that still surround the incident. Specifically, he states that he does not have sufficient information to determine the cause of the shipwreck. After reviewing the official versions, journalistic investigations and testimonies of the survivors, he concludes the following: “The Greek authorities stated that they never tried to tow her, although at one point a rope was thrown from the [la embarcación de la Guardia Costera] HCG CPV 920 towards the ship. “The Coast Guard statement is inconsistent with some of the migrants’ consistent accounts.”

The resources mobilized by the authorities during the day (including merchant ships and Coast Guard helicopters) were not sufficient for the objective of rescuing the passengers. Judging by the resources actually deployed, as well as based on some testimonies from survivors, the authorities' immediate focus before the shipwreck was not rescue. The Office for Fundamental Rights reviewed repeated allegations that the sinking of the Adriana could have been directly caused by the HCG CPV 920's attempt to tow her. However, he does not have sufficient information to conclude about the immediate cause of the wreck or the attempt to tow the ship with certainty.

The Fundamental Rights Office concludes that Frontex followed the applicable procedures by classifying the case as non-urgent and simply transmitting the collected information to the Greek authorities. The report has not found any error attributable to the agency itself, one of whose aircraft sighted the vessel and informed the national authorities. “All applicable procedures were formally complied with by Frontex in the course of the initial sighting and transmission of information to the Greek authorities; and Frontex followed up on their sighting with the Greek authorities,” he says.

The incident was initially recorded by Alarm Phone, an NGO that was in contact with the migrants on board and informed Italy's Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC). The Italian MRCC informed the Greek authorities and Frontex. Frontex sent an aircraft that spotted the vessel, overloaded but sailing slowly, around noon local time. Initially, Frontex did not classify the notice as an emergency case or issue a distress alert.

In the hours after the sighting of the Adriana, Frontex assures that it made three attempts to follow up on the case, suggesting additional departures of Frontex Surveillance Aircraft, and denounces that the response of the Greek authorities arrived late. “The Greek authorities did not declare a search and rescue situation in time nor deploy a sufficient number of appropriate assets to rescue the migrants,” the letter concludes.

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