Dozens of displaced people were found dead from exposure to freezing temperatures along the Turkey-Greece border. Turkey’s interior minister has accused Greece of purposely sending individuals back after stripping them of their clothes. This resulted in a war of words erupting between the two countries.
Twelve people’s remains, some of them half-dressed, were discovered near the Greek border in Turkey after they reportedly died from exposure to the cold.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu tweeted blurry photographs of the dead laying on the roadway close to Ipsala, Turkey’s northern border town, in shorts and T-shirts despite the freezing weather. Greece had “pushed back” a bigger group, he claimed, which included these 12.
After being stripped of their clothing and shoes, 12 of the 22 migrants driven back by Greek Border Units “had frozen to death,” Soylu said in English. In late January and early February, temperatures in the region can dip to between 35.6 and 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
He claimed European Union is “weak and cruel” for supporting Greece. He also accused the Greek border guards of being thuggish.
It was a “tragedy,” according to Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s Minister of Migration, but “false propaganda,” by Turkey. He claimed that these refugees never got to the border. Mitarachi added that there is absolutely no truth to the claim that they did, or that we even forced them back into Turkey. The alleged deaths shocked the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which described the event as “horrifying.”
A representative for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that mounting allegations of pushbacks against refugees at European borders and elsewhere across the world are “very disturbing” and “should be examined and an action should be taken.”
Safa Msehli, a spokesperson for the IOM, also added that such activities are illegal by international law and should never take place. “The integrity of any border depends on the duty and priority of preserving lives and prioritising the well-being and human rights of migrants.”
Turkey routinely accuses neighbouring Greece of illegally forcing back migrants and asylum seekers attempting to make their way into Europe over the two countries’ shared borders on foot or by boat. International law does not prohibit Greece from defending the EU’s southern borders, according to the Greek government, which dismisses the claims.
The European Union’s support of Greece enrages Turkey. Ylva Johansson, the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner, voiced concern over the 12 bodies found on Wednesday. While addressing a conference of 27-nation bloc interior ministers in France, she said, “I just received the information and I must admit I’m a bit astonished.”
She added she will surely bring this up with the Greek minister, who was present there. This is something that must be explored.
Migrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the world go to Greece to enter the European Union, although the number of individuals making the voyage has decreased in recent years.
The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 2,500 migrants from North Africa and Turkey passed away or went missing at sea last year as they attempted to reach Europe.
The EU sends billions of dollars in funding to Ankara in exchange for Turkey agreeing to house refugees from Syria and other countries under a 2016 agreement that was recently renewed.