Turkish officials discovered seven additional dead corpses near Turkey’s border with Greece on Thursday, bringing the total number of migrants who have frozen to death at the border to 19.
Turkey has blamed Greece for the fatalities, alleging that Greek border guards illegally pushed migrants back over the border. Greece has categorically denied the charge.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Thursday to reveal Greece’s alleged illegal migrant pushback on any given opportunity.
According to Turkey’s interior minister, 12 migrants died after being driven back into the country. They were discovered near the border “without shoes and stripped of their garments,” he said. One of the migrants was discovered alive but died at a hospital. There was no information about the nationality of the migrants.
According to a statement from the governor’s office in the border province of Edirne, seven additional dead were discovered on Thursday. According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, gendarmerie personnel were using drones to search the area, while medical crews were on standby.
Turkey is a significant transit country for migrants seeking a better life in European Union nations from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Most attempt to enter Greece, a vital gateway to the EU for people fleeing conflict or poverty, either crossing the northeastern land border or packing aboard smuggling boats bound for the Aegean Sea islands in the east.
Erdogan told reporters before leaving on a visit to Ukraine that he will bring up the subject of Greece’s alleged mistreatment of migrants at every meeting he has with foreign leaders. He also accused the European Union of failing to speak out against unlawful migrant pushbacks, as well as Frontex, the EU’s border and coast guard agency, of supposedly “helping” Greece.
“We shall lead our battle in front of the entire world,” he said. “We shall remain on the side of the downtrodden.” This is both a humanitarian and an Islamic obligation for us.”
Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s Migration Minister, called the fatalities a “tragedy,” but vehemently disputed that Greek authorities had driven the migrants back, arguing that the refugees never made it to the border.
He also accused Turkey of failing to stop refugees from crossing the border and embarking on “these perilous voyages.”