Greece accuses Turkey of forcing nearly 100 ‘naked and bruised’ migrants across river along the border between the two countries as war of words breaks out amid Europe’s migrant crisis
- EU border agency Frontex confirmed the arrival of the confused migrants
- Migrants, mostly Syrians and Afghans, were found naked with various injuries
- Greek minister accused Turkey of ‘instrumentalizing illegal immigration’
- Turkey, meanwhile, strongly denied the charges and blamed Greece
Ninety-two migrants were found nearly naked and bruised after they were allegedly forced to cross the Evros River from Turkey to Greece, Athens said on Sunday, a charge vehemently denied by Ankara.
EU border agency Frontex confirmed the group’s arrival in circumstances which, according to the Greek civil protection ministry, presented an ‘inhumane image’.
“The Frontex officers reported that the migrants were found almost naked and some with visible injuries,” said Paulina Bakula, spokeswoman for the organization.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a tweet that it was “deeply shocked by the shocking reports and images of 92 people allegedly found stripped of their clothes at the Greek-Turkish land border.”
Bakula, speaking from Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, said Frontex officers were working with Greek authorities to provide immediate assistance to the migrants – mainly Afghans and Syrians.
She added that the organization had informed the agency’s fundamental rights officer about a possible violation of rights.
Meanwhile, Greek civil protection minister Takis Theodorikakos accused Turkey of “instrumentalizing illegal immigration” in the latest of a series of allegations about migration between neighbours.
“The Frontex officers reported that the migrants were found almost naked and some with visible injuries,” said a spokeswoman for the border service.
The flows of people arriving from Turkey are increasing every day as the refugee and migrant crisis is still ongoing (migrants pictured in Greece in October 2022)
On Skai television, Theodorikakos said many of the migrants told Frontex that “three Turkish army vehicles had transferred them” to the river that acts as a natural border.
In a series of scathing comments on Twitter, the Turkish presidency denied any responsibility for the migrants and blamed Greece for the “inhumane” situation.
“We urge Greece to abandon its harsh treatment of refugees as soon as possible and to cease its baseless and false accusations against Turkey,” wrote Fahrettin Altun, the senior press officer for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“With these futile and ridiculous efforts, Greece has once again shown to the whole world that it does not respect the dignity of refugees by posting the photos of these oppressed people it has deported after extorting their personal belongings,” he added. in tweets in Turkish. Greek and English.
Turkey’s deputy interior minister Ismail Catakli called on Greece to stop what he called “manipulation and dishonesty” in a tweet.
Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi had described the incident on Saturday as a “shame to civilization”.
In a series of scathing comments on Twitter, the Turkish presidency denied any responsibility for the migrants and blamed Greece for the “inhumane” situation (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pictured)
Athens regularly faces and denies accusations from NGOs and the media that it has tried on many occasions to illegally push migrants back to Turkey, sometimes by force.
Last month, Erdogan used a UN address to accuse Greece of turning the Aegean into a “cemetery” with “oppressive immigration policies.”
Berlin-based human rights organization Mare Liberum tweeted: “In the Evros region, systematic human rights crimes against people on the move are committed daily by both Turkey and Greece.”
“When these crimes are publicly discussed by members of the government, it only serves to fan the flames of the protracted conflict between Turkey and Greece, not to protect people on the way,” the group added.