“We wanted to cross the border at the river in two boats. We were many people and two boats. We entered the second boat. 13 persons in a boat for 3! For some reason our boat got into a slipstream. It turned around and we all fell into the water. It was night. Some of us hold on to the boat and reached the Turkish coast. Me and my daughters were carried away by the stream together with another woman and three men. We couldn’t swim. I was struggling to keep myself over the water level in order not to drown. I just heard my daughter shouting: Mum, help me! Then the Turkish border guards found us and pulled me out of the water. I told them about the others and they searched some hours for them without any results. After release from detention in Turkey we crossed again into Greece and went directly to the police. We told them that we lost our children and asked for help. They brought us into another prison.”

S. looking for his friend Saaid in the river

Meanwhile, two sans-papiers immigrants died a tragic death shortly after 23:00 Friday night (October 7, 2011) when a train moving on the Alexandroupolis – Dikaia railway line ran over them. The two immigrants were walking on the train rails. Obviously they had no money and no other means to reach Athens after having arrived in Evros region from Turkey.

These days the weather conditions at the landborder to Turkey are very harsh. It is raining and cold. Other than the detained migrants and refugees who suffer also from the cold, the new arriving and the freshly released have to walk for hours through water and rain in the cold. If they have no money they have also to sleep outside.
In the last days an African sans-papier froze to death in the area. Another two Pakistani sans-papiers were found dead in the river (one woman one man).

During the summer dozens of people lost their relatives at the border between Turkey and Greece – most of them at the landborder in Evros prefecture. While the “lucky” ones find the lost alive inside detention centres, others have found them dead. Many continue to be lost and the relatives and friends are still waiting for answers.

The tragedy is that the Greek authorities keep people in detention who have lost family members on the border.


“We reached the border on the Turkish side together with my small brother. When we had to enter the boats to cross, we were separated. I was told that my brother would follow with the next boat. I wanted to join him, but I was not allowed. When we arrived at the Greek side and I turned around, I couldn’t see anybody. There was no second boat. I was arrested and detained for one day. After release I went to Athens to wait for my brother there. I was told that he crossed the border after me. I waited for one month sleeping in the streets and parks of Athens because I had no money. No money to pay some house, no money to go back and search my brother. Then my father send some money. I returned to Evros and started searching. My brother is 14 years old. I was walking on the rails when I reached one of the prisons of the area. I told the police that I am looking for my brother and that he got lost on the border. The interpreter said: You are lying. The police then told me that my paper is invalid because the 30 days passed and that they will put me into prison.”

“We crossed the border together. My nephew and his friend could not swim. We fell out the inflatable boat. I could save some, but I lost the two boys. I just saw them being carried away by the river one week ago. We were searching for them for hours after arriving at the Greek coast. Now I returned from Athens to find them. I checked all detention centres, the hospitals, but no trace.”

More dead and wounded at the border:
Two Iranian immigrants dead and eight wounded, was the result of a police chase that took place on Tuesday the 11th of October dawn at Egnatia highway. According to Police Director A. Malelides, Komotini Police Department had information about nine sans-papiers immigrants and two smugglers riding on a car heading from the town of Komotini to the town of Kavala.
Police set up two roadblocks on the Egnatia highway. The car with the sans-papiers immigrants escaped the first police roadblock but shortly after the car overturned. One immigrant died instantly at the accident, while eight were injured. One of them died during transport to hospital. Four immigrants managed to escape to the forest but they were trapped and the assistance of the Fire Department was needed to rescue them.