Statement on the Pylos’ shipwreck

And Europe’s ongoing disregard for migrant lives

In the early hours of June 14th, a fishing boat with what seems to have had approximately 750 people on board capsized on the coast of Pylos, Greece.

This boat reportedly left from Egypt and had stopped in Libya before heading to Italy and those on board were children, men and women seeking safety and opportunities that they were willing to risk their life for. Most of these people, from Egypt, Syria, Pakistan and Palestine ended up leaving conflict and inequality only to find fortress Europe and more death on our side.

According to the NGO Alarm phone, people in the boat reached out to them with coordinates when the boat started sinking and the NGO proceeded to warn Frontex and the Greek Authorities. A few hours later, it is reported that the Greek coastguard arrived near the vessel and observed it from a distance, not providing any sort of aid. Greek officials say they made repeated offers of assistance, but the boat refused and said it wanted to sail straight on to Italy. According to survivors, this alleged refusal to accept assistance could have been due to the fear of being pushed back or even forcibly drowned.

Hours later and according to statements from multiple people on board, the coastguard tried to tow the boat to Italian waters and out of Greek waters (attempting a push-back) and once they succeeded to tie a rope to the boat, the ship capsized. They then launched a rescue mission with the collaboration of a Frontex drone and ended up bringing the survivors and the bodies found to Kalamata, the nearest Greek port.

So far, around 100 people have been found alive and around 80 people have been found lifeless. This means that around 570 people are missing and are most likely on the bottom of the sea with the boat. According to survivors and witnesses, those trapped inside the boat when it capsized were mostly women and children. 

Despite the amount of push-backs and deaths that have been happening on a daily basis for years, Greece announced 3 days of mourning after this shipwreck.

Nine of the survivors have been arrested for alleged “illegal trafficking of foreigners”.

Who is really to blame when there are no safe pathways for asylum seekers and when these people are more scared of being faced with push-backs and violence than of dying at sea? Nowadays, asylum seekers are being forced to choose longer and more dangerous routes to Europe to avoid Greek territory due to the frequency of push-backs and hostility shown by Greek coastguards and Frontex agents – this means the death toll will keep rising, whether it makes it to the headlines or not.

More than 52.760 migrant deaths were documented up to June 2023 – is this the Europe we want to be a part of? 

Join us on the 25th of June to stand with those on the move and to protest against these migration policies that have killed and continue to kill so many people. We need safe and dignified pathways for people to seek asylum instead of militarizing our borders and ‘welcoming’ refugees with violence and shame.