Ninety-two migrants were found almost naked and bruised after allegedly being forced across the Evros river from Turkey into Greece, Athens said Sunday (16 October).
EU border agency Frontex confirmed to AFP the arrival of the group in circumstances which the Greek ministry for civil protection said sent out an “inhuman image.”
“The Frontex officers reported that the migrants were found almost naked and some of them with visible injuries,” said Paulina Bakula, spokeswoman for the organisation.
It is not the first time that Greece finds migrants trapped in the region of the Evros river along the border between Greece and Turkey.
The Evros river is called Maritsa in Bulgaria and Meriç in Turkey. After leaving Bulgaria, the river divides Greece from Turkey and is relatively easy to cross in some areas between the two countries.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a tweet that it was “deeply distressed by the shocking reports and images of 92 people, who were reported to have been found at the Greek-Turkish land border, stripped of their clothes”.
Bakula, speaking from Frontex’s Warsaw HQ, said Frontex officers worked with Greek authorities to provide the migrants — mainly Afghans and Syrians — with immediate assistance.
She added the organisation had informed the agency’s fundamental rights officer of a potential rights violation.
Greek minister for civil protection, Takis Theodorikakos, accused Turkey of “instrumentalising illegal immigration” in the latest of a series of recriminations on migration between the neighbours.
Theodorikakos told Skai television many of the migrants had told Frontex that “three Turkish army vehicles had transferred them” to the river which acts as a natural border.
Ankara denied any responsibility and Interior Minister Ismail Catakli called on Greece to stop what in a tweet he termed its “manipulations and dishonesty.”
Greek minister for migration and asylum, Notis Mitarachi, had Saturday described the incident as a “shame on civilisation.”
Athens regularly faces — and denies – accusations from NGOs and media as having on many occasions sought to push migrants back to Turkey illegally, sometimes using force.
Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used a UN address to accuse Greece of transforming the Aegean Sea into a “cemetery” with “oppressive policies” on immigration.