The bodies of 12 migrants who froze to death were found near Turkey’s border with Greece, the Turkish Interior Minister said on Wednesday.
In a tweet, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that those who had died were found near the Ipsala border crossing “without shoes and stripped of their clothes,” and had been among 22 people allegedly pushed back into Turkey by Greek border guards.
The minister didn’t provide further details, but shared blurred photographs of eight of the recovered bodies, including three in shorts and T-shirts.
Greece has long denied Turkish claims that its forces push migrants back into Turkey, or sink migrant boats at sea.
On Wednesday, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis dismissed Soylu’s remarks as “false propaganda,” saying Turkey needed to do more to prevent migrants from setting off from there.
“These migrants never made it to the border,” Mitarakis said in a statement. “Any suggestion that they did, or indeed were pushed back into Turkey, is utter nonsense.”
Mitarakis accused Turkey of failing to prevent migrants from approaching the border area and undertaking “these dangerous journeys.”
“Instead of accusing others, Turkey should assume its responsibilities if we want to prevent such tragedies from occurring again,” Mitarakis said.
The International Organisation for Migration said it was “horrified” by the reported deaths and that it would follow up the incident with the relevant authorities.
Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for migrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and beyond, though the flow has tapered off since 2015-2016 when more than a million people traversed the country to other EU states.
Source: AP News.