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2 Feb, 2022 14:55

Greece sent migrants to their deaths, Turkish minister claims

Minister says 12 of 22 migrants ‘pushed back’ by Greece were stripped of their shoes and froze to death
Greece sent migrants to their deaths, Turkish minister claims

Turkey’s Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, accused Greek authorities of allowing a dozen migrants to perish in the cold without their shoes, after turning them back from the Greek border. Soylu shared photos supposedly showing the migrants’ bodies.

Soylu posted a series of photos on Wednesday, which purportedly show the bodies of several migrants, allegedly part of a group of 22 turned back from the Greek border near the town of Ipsala. Soylu said that 12 migrants froze to death, having been “stripped off from their clothes and shoes.”

The “EU is remediless, weak and void of humane feelings,” Soylu declared, accusing the Greeks of acting like thugs against “victims,” and “tolerant towards FETO,” a Turkish opposition group considered terrorists by Ankara, whose members were recently caught attempting to flee to Greece.

The governor’s office of Edirne Province, where Ipsala is located, said that 11 of the migrants were discovered frozen to death, while the 12th was taken to hospital with severe frostbite but "could not be saved,” AFP reported.

Greek officials have not yet commented on Soylu’s claims.

Migration is just one focal point of tension between Turkey and Greece. Athens and Ankara have clashed over gas drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, with the two bitter rivals almost coming to blows when two of their warships collided in 2020. Since then, Turkey has repeatedly accused Greece of mistreating - even killing - the migrants it pushes back into Turkey. Athens has dismissed the most alarming allegations as “utterly fake news,” and accused the Turkish government of using the migrants to “blackmail” financial and policy concessions out of the EU.

Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrian migrants and nearly 320,000 migrants of other nationalities, according to UN figures. It has previously released more than 10,000 of these migrants into Europe in an apparent bid to pressure Germany into supporting its military campaign in Syria, and has managed to secure billions of Euros from EU leaders to keep the migrants on Turkish soil.