Over on the border of Turkey and Greece, on an unnamed island, a group of 38 migrants, including a heavily pregnant woman, have been found. The group consisted of twenty-two men, nine women, and seven children, all identifying as Syrians and claiming they had been on the Evros river islet since mid-July.
After being discovered on Monday, Greek officials took the migrants to Greece’s mainland, where they were poked, prodded, and confirmed by the country’s migration minister as in “very good condition,” the pregnant woman was taken to hospital as a precaution. There was one reported death on the unnamed islet. Claims that a child had perished have echoed as the media waits for the police to confirm the fatality.
On Tuesday, Notis Mitarachi, the minister of migration, traveled to the Evros area. He stated the government would cooperate with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent to locate the child’s remains to guarantee a respectable funeral, even if he did not confirm the child’s demise.
The island’s location led to some discrepancy between Turkey and Greece on who should’ve stepped in to assist the stranded group. Greek officials claim that the self-identifying Syrians were initially on Turkish land but were located 4 km south of the coordinates outside the Greek territory that was initially reported. This led Greek police to conclude that was why the migrants had been missing for as long as they were.
For several years, the treatment of migrants seeking to enter Europe from Turkey by Greece has been in the spotlight.
One of the women from the group, Baida, described being treated like “a football game between the two sides.” She said, “No one wants us. No one hears us. No one wants to help.”
Human rights organizations claim that thousands of people who wanted asylum applications were denied before they even got the chance. A top official’s assertion that the nation violated fundamental European rights last year also provoked a rift inside the EU. They even claim that some refugees have been forcibly returned to Turkish waters.
The Greek government has always refuted these accusations and maintains that it abides by domestic and international law. According to the UN, 232 Syrians arrived in Greece in the first six months of this year.
The International Rescue Committee’s Greece director, Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, stated that the event on the Evros river “highlights the brutality of pushbacks.”