Over 25,000 irregular migrants pushed back to Turkey by Greece in 2019: Ministry

Over 25,000 irregular migrants pushed back to Turkey by Greece in 2019: Ministry

Over 25,000 irregular migrants pushed back to Turkey by Greece in 2019: Ministry

A total of 25,404 irregular migrants were pushed back to Turkey by Greece in the first ten months of 2019, up from 11,867 migrants in 2018, Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Oct. 27.

“It has been identified from the testimonials of pushed back migrants that, after detained by Greek officials, their personal belongings were confiscated without any official procedure, they were subjected to unacceptable treatment and beaten and then pushed back to our borders under the company of the Greek officials,” said the statement.

Turkey also invited Greece to stop forcing irregular migrants in Greece back across the Turkish border. “Despite Greece’s denial of the fact that irregular migrants are being pushed back to Turkey by Greek authorities, incidents of push backs of irregular migrants by Greek officials from Greece to Turkey continue both at land and sea,” the statement said.

Underlining that Greece’s actions were in violation of international law, it added that they had been identified by both Turkish authorities and the Council of Europe, which had “requested Greece to stop said push back practices and to investigate these incidents.”

“We invite the new Greek government to work on correcting this policy that is violating international law, instead of denying push back incidents, which we have every information and document of and which are also identified by the Council of Europe,” it added.

The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced last week that a total of 82,978 irregular migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea in the first 10 months of 2019, with 45,105 arriving in Greece -- more than half the total.

In 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel championed a Turkey-EU refugee agreement with the hope of stopping an ongoing refugee influx after nearly a million refugees had arrived in Germany.

In the agreement, the EU had pledged 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) aid to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, with only 2.22 billion euros disbursed as of June 2019.

EU member states also pledged that for every Syrian returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian would be resettled from Turkey to the EU as part of a resettlement plan. However, EU member only accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey since 2016.

Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.