UN agencies urge Greece to shed light on migrant shipwreck that killed hundreds one year ago

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The United Nations' refugee and migration agencies on Friday criticized Greece's failure over the past year to shed light on one of the worst migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea that left hundreds dead.

UNHCR and IOM stressed the “critical" importance of a “comprehensive and conclusive” investigation in a joint statement on the first anniversary of the June 14, 2023, tragedy off southern Greece.

“Investigations have been initiated in Greece but so far no outcome establishing the facts on the incident has been communicated,” they said.

About 1,000 people took part later Friday in a central Athens protest march organized by left-wing groups to mark the anniversary of the shipwreck. Protesters, who included some of the survivors, carried a banner with photographs of the dead.

Several hundred people joined in a similar protest in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Migrant charities and rights groups have widely criticized the Greek coast guard's handling of the shipwreck in international waters 75 kilometers (45 miles) off the town of Pylos.

Only 104 people survived the sinking of the Adriana, a rusty metal fishing boat smuggling up to 750 migrants from Libya to Italy. Although the vessel was clearly in bad shape, Greek officials were unable to evacuate the passengers before it sank. Survivors have said the Adriana went down during a botched coast guard attempt to tow it, which Greek officials strongly deny.

“A thorough investigation is essential to secure justice for the survivors and the families of the victims and to help prevent similar tragedies in the future,” the two U.N. agencies said.

On Thursday, rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said “a credible process for accountability” was needed.

“It is unconscionable that one year since this horrific tragedy, the investigation into the potential liability of (Greece’s) Coast Guard has barely progressed,” HRW official Judith Sunderland said in a joint statement by the groups.

A naval court launched a preliminary investigation days after the accident but has released no information on its progress. In November 2023, Greece’s state ombudsman started a separate probe.

Greek officials had made no statement as of early afternoon Friday to mark the shipwreck anniversary, and did not respond to previous requests for comment.

Greece is a main entry point for people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia seeking a better life in the European Union.