Pushed back, not protected



“The asylum seekers, including one pregnant woman and six children, did not have access to water, food, medical care, or items to keep them warm. For days, they were exposed to cold and humid weather on a small islet in the Evros river…they were eating garbage left on the islet…”


From At Europe’s Borders: Between Impunity and Criminalization, a Greek Council of Refugees report.



Wherever you come from, your right to seek safety and find refuge is the same.

Seeking asylum is a human right, enshrined in international and European law. 


And yet, across the EU, people forced to flee are suffering as a direct result of policies and procedures that are illegal under EU and international law. Arriving traumatised by what they left behind as well as the journey to safety, people then face violent push backs at EU borders, are denied their right to seek asylum for unfounded reasons and are left to languish in inhumane conditions in camps.

Instead of solidarity, they are met with hostility. Instead of a welcome for all and the rule of law, they experience violence and human rights abuses.

Pushbacks are illegal. They stop people accessing their right to seek asylum. They are also a systematic part of an unofficial but carefully planned border policy across Europe.


A report by our partner, the Greek Council for Refugees, documents extreme violence against people seeking asylum at Europe’s external border at the hands of Greek authorities, from strip searching to groping, forced nudity and rape. Pushbacks of refugees to Turkey are widespread, and involve humiliation, illegal detention, intimidation, and arbitrary confiscation of personal belongings. Sadly, people are being illegally pushed back from many EU borders.

The testimonies in the Greek Council for Refugees report are harrowing.

In May 2022, five people looking for international protection entered Greece and were illegally detained at the border. Masked officers who carried electroshock batons forced them to strip naked and beat them with their batons.


In June 2022, two Palestinians recognised by the Greek authorities as refugees and legally residing in the island of Kos were illegally apprehended in the middle of the street. They were brought to a small storage room with other people, body searched and then raped. Twelve hours later, the guards tied their legs, put them in a van and boarded them in a boat. They threw them in the sea on a half-deflated raft until the Turkish coast guard rescued them.

Everyone has the right to seek asylum, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or country of origin.

At any border in Europe, we cannot have a system that perpetuates abuse, exploitation, violence and hatred. Reaching a safe place of refuge should mean an end to suffering, not a continuation of it.  


We are calling on Ireland to show leadership at EU level to end illegal pushbacks, including on the European Council and Justice Home Affairs Council where our Taoiseach and Minister for Justice meet with other leaders to discuss migration.


Join us – urge Ireland to ensure equal right to refuge for all by:

  • Showing leadership at EU level and calling on Greece and any other EU member states to end the illegal and inhumane practice of pushbacks
  • Calling for the establishment of an Independent Border Monitoring Mechanism that will investigate human rights violations at EU borders and hold perpetrators accountable
  • Preventing a preferential EU refugee response in Ireland and across the EU, where some are met with solidarity and others with hostility