Activists warn Greece has still not acted on ECHR order to rescue 34 refugees trapped on Evros River island for three days

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THE Greek government has still not rescued 34 refugees stranded on an island in the River Evros, despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) having ordered it to do so, activists said today.

Activist-run refugee rescue organisation Alarm Phone alerted the Greek authorities on Wednesday to six children, four women — one pregnant — and 24 men stuck on an islet in the river separating Greece from Turkey.

Having attempted the crossing earlier this week, they contacted Alarm Phone and the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) on Wednesday and said that they were having to save the last of their food and water for the children.

With no rescue having taken place by the following day, BVMN reached out to the ECHR, calling on it to invoke special measures to push for their safe passage to Greece.

The court agreed and later that evening called on the Greek government to “provide the [the 34 refugees] with food, water, clothing, temporary shelter and adequate medical care until April 14 2022.”

Failure to do so, the court said in a letter to BVMN and the Greek government, would be a breach of the ECHR convention.

“We are still in contact with the group,” Alarm Phone said on Thursday evening.

“They just said they have been attacked by men in military clothes… The people themselves used the word ‘attacked’ in their communication with us.

“We understand they felt intimidated because they were approached by uniformed men without insignia who did not offer to rescue the whole group.”

Both organisations warned today morning that the 34 people were still languishing on the Evros islet.

“Their situation gets more and more dangerous. We urge Greek authorities to evacuate them now,” Alarm Phone said.

Meanwhile, Malta once again refused to allow the crew of an NGO refugee rescue ship to disembark people rescued in the central Mediterranean.

The Sea-Eye is currently carrying 106 people picked up in four operations since Wednesday.

Sea-Eye chairman Gorden Isler said this morning that Malta had not responded to the ship’s calls for a place of safety. The island nation has refused to communicate with activist rescuers since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Pope is going to Malta on Saturday,” Mr Isler said in a Twitter post today.

“Perhaps an unequivocal appeal by the Pope to the Maltese government can make Malta, as the closest EU state, feel responsible for 106 people seeking protection.

“His visits to [the Italian island of] Lampedusa [in 2013] moved countless people worldwide. Perhaps the Pope will also be able to move the people of Malta.”

By : Ben Cowles

Source: Morning Star

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