29 February, 2024
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‘Distressing’ naked migrants discovery condemned

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The United Nations’ refugee agency has condemned the “distressing” discovery of 92 illegal migrants, found naked and injured on the border between Greece and Turkey.

Greek police have rescued a group of 92 illegal migrants who were discovered naked, some injured, near its northern border with Turkey, police say.

The migrants, all men, were discovered close to the Evros river, which marks the border between Greece and Turkey on Friday, Greek police said in a statement on Saturday.

The UNHCR has called for an investigation into the “shocking reports and images”. It came as Greece and Turkey squabbled over responsibility for the migrants.

Greek police said a joint investigation with officials from the EU border agency Frontex found evidence that the migrants crossed the Evros into Greek territory in rubber dinghies from Turkey.

“Border policemen … discovered 92 illegal migrants without clothes, some of whom had injuries on their bodies,” the statement said.

It was not clear how and why the men – mostly from Afghanistan or Syria – had lost their clothes.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said in a tweet that Turkey’s treatment of the migrants was a “shame for civilisation”. He said Athens expected Ankara to investigate the incident.

The country’s Civil Protection Minister, Takis Theodorikakos, accused Turkey of “instrumentalising illegal immigration”.

He told Greek TV that many of the migrants had told Frontex that “three Turkish army vehicles had transferred them” to the river, which acts as a border between the two countries.

“One would expect a working explanation from the Turkish government’s side,” Mr Theodorikakos said.

However, tweets on behalf of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have denied any responsibility, and instead blamed Greece for the “inhuman” situation.

“The Greek machine of fake news is back at work,” the president’s top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, tweeted.

He described the allegations as “futile and ridiculous”, accusing Greece of not respecting the refugees by posting their pictures.

Greece was on the frontline of a European migration crisis in 2015 and 2016, when about a million refugees fleeing war and poverty in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in the country, mainly via Turkey.

The number of arrivals has fallen since then. But Greek authorities said they had recently seen an increase in attempted arrivals through the Turkish land border and the Greek islands.

Greece has urged Turkey to respect a 2016 deal with the European Union in which Ankara agreed to contain the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for billions of euros in aid.

Turkey says it has ramped up measures to prevent people smuggling.

– with AAP

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