After the tragedy of migrants froze to death, the United Nations calls for an urgent investigation, and Erdogan accuses Europe of inaction
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees called for an urgent investigation into the deaths of irregular migrants who froze to death after being returned from the Greek border to Turkish territory, while Ankara accused the European Union of inaction.
And with the discovery of 7 other bodies in the Ipsala region of the Turkish state of Edirne, on the border with Greece, the number of victims who had frozen to death since yesterday, Wednesday, rose to 19.
A spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Shabia Mantou, described the deaths of the migrants from freezing as “heartbreaking”.
She added that she was “following the case closely, and called for an urgent investigation.”
For its part, the International Center for Monitoring Human Rights Violations criticized the Greek authorities, who were accused of forcing 19 migrants to return to the Turkish border after stripping them of their clothes, which led to their freezing death.
A statement issued by the center said that “humanity has frozen on the Greek borders,” stressing the need to implement the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Since Wednesday morning, the Turkish authorities have been combing the area with the aim of finding other migrants who may need urgent medical assistance, while the judicial authorities have opened an investigation into the incident.
In turn, European Union Commission spokeswoman Anita Heber said – in a press conference today, Thursday – that she is deeply saddened by the loss of lives of irregular migrants.
“Such treatment cannot be tolerated if it is confirmed,” Heber added, adding that “EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson is in close contact with her Greek counterpart.”
In the same context, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara that “seeing people freezing to death is something that cannot be accepted or tolerated.”
He added, “No matter which state leader we meet, we will put the photos we recorded and everything in front of them.”
Erdogan also criticized the European border protection agency Frontex, accusing it of inaction, saying that it “serves no purpose except to support Greece, it has no role.”
Ankara has repeatedly accused Frontex of contributing to forcing migrants to move away from the border, and the agency has been scrutinized by its scrutiny of its practices and transparency.
Greece and Turkey agreed last year to resume bilateral talks over a number of differences, but have continued to exchange criticism over immigration and maritime borders.