The United Nations has called for an urgent investigation after almost 100 migrants were found distressed, bruised and stripped naked at the border between Greece and Turkey — as the two countries fiercely trade blame for the disturbing discovery.
The group of 92 men, mostly from Afghanistan and Syria, were found close to the Evros river that marks the border on Friday, Greek police said in a statement Saturday.
Some of the migrants, who had entered the country using plastic boats to cross, showed signs of “bodily injuries,” police added.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees admonished the “degrading treatment” of the nude asylum seekers and demanded an investigation into the incident.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the two European countries traded accusations and insults.
Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi tweeted a picture of the nude men Saturday, claiming his country “rescued” them after Turkey stripped them and pushed them into Greek territory.
In response, Turkey slammed the assertion as “fake news.”
Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish prime minister’s chief spokesperson, described the allegations as “baseless and false” in a series of tweets posted late Sunday.
The shots continued Monday, with Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu accusing Greece of being “shameless and reckless.”
He also took aim at the European Union, claiming that the bloc was encouraging Greece to “slander” the nation.
“To be able to appear right even when you are in the wrong like Greece – you need to be shameless and reckless. It’s only Greece that can achieve this,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Athens government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou fired back Monday that Turkey was “continuing to openly instrumentalize [sic] migrants” with “unprecedented and unthinkable practices of barbarism.”
The vicious back-and-forth comes amid ramped-up tensions between the neighbors.
Turkey is home to the world’s largest refugee population and frequently accuses Greece of violently pushing back migrants entering the country.
Greece accuses Turkey of “pushing forward” migrants to put pressure on the EU, despite having agreed to stop the flow of refugees in exchange for billions of euros in aid in a landmark 2016 deal.
At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, about a million migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Greece, mostly through Turkey.
“This inhuman behavior is a disgrace to civilization, and the Turkish leadership, instead of blaming others for what is happening on its territory, should investigate the incident, punish those directly involved and honor its obligations under its Joint Declaration with the EU,” Oikonomou said.
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Ankara and Athens have also accused each other of airspace violations as Turkey claims Greece is illegally militarizing islands in the Aegean Sea.
The latest migrant incident comes after back-to-back deadly shipwrecks full of asylum-seekers in the Mediterranean Sea killed dozens of people.
Some 24,871 migrants have been killed or gone missing in the sea on their way to seek asylum in Europe since 2014, according to the International Organization of Migration, which estimates the true number of casualties to be higher.
With Post wires
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