UN refugee agency ‘deeply distressed’ by reports of nearly 100 stripped migrants at Greece-Turkey border

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CNN

The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) has said it is “deeply distressed” by reports of nearly 100 naked migrants at the border between Greece and Turkey.

“UNHCR is deeply distressed by the shocking reports and images of 92 people, who were reported to have been found at the Greek-Turkish land border, stripped of their clothes,” the agency tweeted Sunday.

“We condemn such cruel and degrading treatment and call for a full investigation into this incident,” it added.

Turkey and Greece have blamed each other for the situation. Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, tweeted a photograph Saturday of what he implied were some of the 92 migrants at the border, accusing Turkey of shameful behavior.

It was not clear why the men in the photo were not clothed.

“Turkey’s behavior towards 92 migrants whom we rescued at the borders today, is a shame for civilization,” Mitarachi tweeted, alongside the photograph.

The Migration Minister added he expected Ankara to investigate the incident and to protect its borders with the European Union (EU).

CNN has not been able to independently verify the photograph.

Greek police said Saturday that its forces on Friday had “discovered 92 illegal migrants without clothes and some of them with injuries on their bodies,” near the country’s northern border.

“Following an investigation by Greek police and officials from the EU border agency Frontex, it was found that they [the migrants] were pushed into Greek territory, via Evros river, in dinghies from Turkey to Greece,” police added in a statement on Twitter.

The statement added Greek authorities had immediately provided the migrants with clothing, food and first aid.

Greece’s Ministry of Citizen Protection said in a statement Saturday that, per accounts from the migrants, they had been transported to the Evros river by vehicles belonging to Turkish authorities, where they then boarded dinghies to cross over to the Greek side.

“Turkey continues to openly instrumentalise immigrants, violate human rights, [and] violate International law,” the statement continued.

Turkey has denied involvement in the incident.

“As you couldn’t find one single case of human rights violation by [Turkey], you just seek to expose [the] image of your cruelty you’ve inflicted as if [Turkey’s] done [it],” the country’s Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Catakli tweeted Saturday in response to Mitarachi.

Catakli also accused Greece of “manipulations and dishonesty,” in his tweet.

Greece last year finished building a 40-kilometer (25-mile) wall along its border with Turkey amid concerns that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan could cause an influx of people seeking asylum.

The country was at the center of Europe’s migrant crisis in the mid-2010s, when millions of refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq traveled to the continent. It has taken a hardline approach since then, rebuffing pleas from Turkey and international organizations to allow more migrants through its borders.