Another migrant found dead after Greece ‘pushback’ to Turkey
Several migrants have accused Greek border guards of beating them and forcing them to return to the Turkish territory half-naked in freezing temperatures.
Demirören News Agency reported Dec. 5 that the body of the unidentified foreign migrant was found in a rice field near the Adasarhanlı village of the northwestern Edirne province’s Meriç district.
Initial findings showed that the victim died of hypothermia as temperatures went as low as minus 6 degrees Celsius.
“His clothes were wet and frozen,” the village head, İbrahim Dalkıran, told the agency.
“Greece forcefully sends back migrants to Turkey. We frequently see Afghan migrants here. Sometimes they arrive here wet or beaten or undressed by Greek officials. We get saddened by the conditions that the migrants face,” he added.
The latest victim’s body was transferred for autopsy.
Half-naked and exhausted
The bodies of three people thought to be irregular migrants have been found in separate border villages in Edirne this week.
An Afghan man’s body was found in the village of Serem, while the bodies of two other migrants were found in the villages of Akçadam and Adasarhanlı.
Turkish residents of the Kiremitçi Salih village in Edirne had provided clothes and shelter for a group of Yemeni and Palestinian migrants who walked into their village half-naked and exhausted after they were beaten by Greek border guards.
According to Greek authorities, over 14,000 irregular entries have been recorded across the Turkish border so far this year, compared to some 5,500 in 2017.
But the number of migrants coming to Europe has fallen since the 2015 peak when over a million people landed in Greece from Turkey, the majority via boats.
The decline followed a deal agreed between the EU and Turkey in 2016 to stop the flow of migrants, with Ankara agreeing to take migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives.
UN sounds alarm on Greek ‘pushback’
The state-run Anadolu Agency reported Dec. 5 that U.N. officials are concerned by reports about Greece’s “pushback” policy, which leaves no opportunity for migrants to seek asylum.
The U.N. Refugee Agency UNHCR “continues to receive numerous credible reports of alleged pushbacks by Greek authorities, including by detaining persons, giving no opportunity to apply for asylum, and then summarily returning them to Turkey via the [border Meriç] Evros River, with violence sometimes being used,” said a U.N. statement Wednesday.
“Such reports are certainly a concern and UNHCR has raised this issue with the Greek authorities in the past and called for preventive measures,” the statement added.
Countries have obligations under national, EU, and international law to protect asylum-seekers and refugees, the Greece office of the UNHCR told Anadolu Agency on Dec. 5.
The Meriç River — called Evros in Greek — is a dangerous route for irregular migrants, especially in winter.
The alleged “pushback” policy is risky, especially for children and other vulnerable individuals, said the UNHCR.