After 19 migrants are found dead near border, Ankara accuses Athens of disregarding Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Turkiye has lambasted Greece over its "inhumane" treatment of migrants after 19 migrants reportedly froze to death at the Greek-Turkish border.
Turkiye's National Defense Ministry said on Friday that the migrants, whose clothes, shoes, and other belongings were allegedly confiscated by Greek border forces before being pushed back into Turkiye, froze to death in the cold weather "as a result of Greece's inhumane treatment."
"Greece must immediately end its inhumane treatment both on its land borders and at sea," stressed the ministry, accusing Athens of disregarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The statement further added that Turkiye believes the Greek people "followed these images with shame and heartache and met this treatment of migrants with hatred. These actions should now draw the EU's attention."
Turkiye's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had also severely criticized Greece and the EU over the incident on Wednesday, sharing several photos of the site where the irregular migrants were found with the victims blurred.
At least 19 irregular migrants were found frozen to death, the Turkish authorities said on Thursday, raising the death toll from 12 a day earlier.
Meanwhile, Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi issued a statement on Twitter saying that the incident was a "tragedy."
However, he denied that Greek forces had pushed them back into Turkiye, saying any suggestion otherwise "is patently false."
The deaths of 12 migrants on the Turkish border near Ipsala is a tragedy. Any suggestion that they were pushed back into Turkey is patently false. pic.twitter.com/X2YoROekHg— Νότης Μηταράκης - Notis Mitarachi (@nmitarakis) February 2, 2022
“Shocked and deeply distressed”
The UN Refugee Agency said on Friday it was “shocked and deeply distressed” by reports that 19 migrants died on Wednesday on the Greek-Turkish border.
“We have seen reports in the media. And we are shocked and deeply distressed by these reports," UN High Commission for Refugees spokesman Boris Ches hirkov told a news conference.
He said they have reports that people have died near the border between Greece and Turkiye.
"We are working to verify these reports,” he added.
According to Cheshirkov, the UN agency has received reports of an increase in the number of human rights violations at land and sea borders during the last two years.
“Such tragic deaths are avoidable, including through the establishment of regular and safe pathways that could prevent people from resorting to smugglers,” said the UN official.
“Increasing border restrictions and pushbacks in Europe contribute to refugees and migrants using riskier routes. And it means that people are putting themselves and their lives and their children in greater risk,” he added.