The UN Refugee Agency on Thursday called on states to halt and investigate the forced deportations – known as pushbacks – of migrants attempting to reach Europe that have been recorded by non-governmental organizations.
“UNHCR has received a continuous stream of reports of some European states restricting access to asylum, returning people after they have reached territory or territorial waters, and using violence against them at borders,” the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, said in a statement on Thursday.
She said reports are describing boats carrying refugees being towed back and people are being rounded-up after they land and then pushed back to sea.
While countries have the legitimate right to manage their borders in accordance with international law, “they must also respect human rights. Pushbacks are simply illegal,” she noted.
“UNHCR has made its concerns clear to European states. The refugee agency calls for urgent inquiries into alleged violations and mistreatment based on credible testimonies that are corroborated by non-governmental organizations, media and open-source reporting,” she said and called for more solidarity by member-states that are more burdened by migration.