Greece Denies Its Border Guards Stripped Migrants Who Froze to Death

Greek officials denied the allegations its border guards stripped the clothes off of several migrants who were found frozen to death near Turkey's border on February 2, 2022.

The 12 migrants who died are the latest in a tug-of-war between the two countries over asylum seekers. Turkey is a major crossing point for migrants in the middle east and migrants use Greece as a way to enter Europe, the Associated Press reported.

In the latest incident, Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu alleged the migrants who froze to death were stripped of their clothes before the Greek border guards forced them to turn around.

Greece's Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said the deaths were "tragic" but denied the claim that Greek border guards had done such a thing and said allegations were "false propaganda," AP reported.

Soylu posted on Twitter blurred photographs of the bodies found on the side of the road near Turkey's border town of Ipsala. He said the victims were found without clothes and shoes and alleged that 12 of the 22 migrants found were pushed back.

He added the European Union was "remediless, weak and void of humane feelings," and called Greek border guards thugs.

Greece Ipsala Border 12 of the 22 migrants pushed back by Greek Border Units, stripped off from their clothes and shoes have frozen to death. EU is remediless, weak and void of humane feelings. Greek border units thug against victims, tolerant towards FETO

However, Mitarachi denied the migrants had ever made it to the border and "any suggestion that they may have reached it or been pushed back to Turkey is utter nonsense," according to AP.

The regional governor's office said 11 of the migrants were found dead, but one initially survived and was rushed to the hospital for frostbite but later died from his injuries, France24 reported.

The Greek official accused Turkey of failing to prevent migrants from making the dangerous trip when attempting to reach the border. "Instead of accusing others, Turkey should assume its responsibilities if we want to prevent such tragedies from occurring again," Mitarachi said in a statement, according to AP.

Turkey frequently accuses Greece of participating in illegal migrant activity, claiming they push back migrants to stop them from applying for international protection, AP reported. Greece denies the accusations.

Safa Msehli, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, said the reports of migrant pushbacks at European borders are "extremely concerning and should be investigated and action taken," AP reported.

"We reiterate that such practices are prohibited under International Law and should not happen under any circumstances," Msehli said, according to AP. "The obligation and primacy of saving lives and prioritizing the well-being and human rights of migrants are vital to the integrity of any border."

In a statement, the IMO said it was "horrified" by the recent migrants who froze to death and said they would contact the authorities to follow up.

This isn't the first instance in which migrants died after allegedly being pushed back from Greece. France24 reported Turkey's coast guard rescued more than 15,000 migrants who were pushed back last month in which 15 migrants had died.

Greece denies violating international laws and France24 reported Greece insists its doing its duty in protecting EU's southeastern borders from illegal crossings.

Migrants Froze to Death
Greek officials denied the allegations its border guards stripped the clothes off of several migrants who were found frozen to death near Turkey's border on February 2, 2022. Above, Palestinian immigrants who were pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard teams took shelter on the Sungukaya Island in Turkish territorial waters. Above, rescued refugees are trying to stay warm on December 23, 2021, in Izmir, Turkey. Can Erok/ dia images/Getty Images