(The Telegraph) — A film shot by Turkish fishermen shot a few days ago apparently shows Greek coast guard vessel leaving an overloaded inflatable boat of Syrians to sink after “piercing it with a lance” in Turkish waters.
A Greek coast guard vessel allegedly sank a rubber dinghy full of Syrian refugees, including women and children, according to film footage shot by Turkish fishermen.
The footage, which was reportedly recorded a few days ago and obtained by Turkish media, suggests that the Greeks sank the migrant boat with some sort of “lance”.
As the Greek patrol vessel moved away from the area, one of the fishermen can be heard saying: “The boat is deflating, the boat’s taking on water and there are people on board.”
He then added: “The boat was pierced by what looks like a long lance.”
The footage then showed migrants in the water as the boat gradually sank.
The fishermen went to the rescue of the Syrians – said to be around 50 – and then called the Turkish coast guard, who eventually took the refugees back to the Turkish coast.
The footage could not be independently verified. When the coast guard for the island of Chios was contacted, they told the Telegraph they were not aware of any reports.
The Greek coast guard said it had gone to the rescue of nearly 600 refugees and migrants on Thursday and Friday, in 21 separate incidents off the Aegean islands of Kos, Rhodes, Chios, Samothraki and Lesbos.
An unprecedented 125,000 refugees and migrants have reached a string of eastern Aegean islands so far this year – a 750 per cent increase on last year.
The Aegean route has become more popular because Turkey has successfully curbed traffickers’ attempts to send large numbers of refugees directly to Italy in so-called “ghost ships” – second-hand merchant vessels crewed by the smugglers and then left to drift towards the Italian coast.
The world is facing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, with more than 50 million people driven from their homes by wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and civil conflict and political persecution in Africa, the EU said.
“Today the world finds itself facing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU’s migration commissioner.
Speaking after a visit to Athens, he said the situation in Greece was “particularly urgent”.
Greece would soon receive a contribution of €30 million (£21 million) from a total disbursement of €2.4 billion of funding for EU member states to cope with the flood of migrants until 2020.
The money is intended to be used to build reception centres and accelerate efforts to deport migrants who are refused entry.
The EU is pushing European leaders to take part in a distribution quota, but a mandatory plan was torpedoed by national leaders last month.
On the island of Kos, where police used fire extinguishers and truncheons this week to control large crowds of refugees penned into an old stadium, a large passenger ferry arrived in order to provide better accommodation.
Many migrants had been sleeping rough in parks and squares, in conditions that have earned the Greek authorities severe criticism from humanitarian organisations.
The ferry, which can accommodate up to 2,500 people, will be used as of Saturday as a floating dormitory and screening centre where Syrians can stay as they wait for temporary travel documents to leave the island and head to Athens.
Islanders on Kos have donated food and clothing to the refugees, despite the acute economic crisis their country is going through.
“We are gathering money, despite our limited capability. There are many anonymous Kos citizens, even poor people, who help the refugees despite their nearly non-existent resources,” said Giorgos Kyritsis, the island’s mayor, as he fought back tears.
He said around 800 refugees and migrants were arriving each day on Kos, many of them in flimsy dinghies normally sold to the tourists who flock to the island.