Turkey-Greece migrants: 38 people found stranded on tiny, unnamed island

The group pose for a photo on the islet off the Evros riverBaida

A group of 38 migrants, including a heavily pregnant woman, have been found stranded on a tiny, unnamed island along the Turkish-Greek border.

The 22 men, nine women and seven children say they have been on the Evros river islet since mid-July.

After being located on Monday, they were taken to mainland Greece.

The country’s migration minister said the group were all in a “very good condition” and the pregnant woman had been taken to hospital as a precaution.

However, at least one child died on the islet, which is near the Greek town of Lavara, according to the group and human rights agencies. Greek police have yet to confirm this.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi visited the Evros region on Tuesday. While he did not confirm the child’s death, he said the government would work with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent to retrieve the body to ensure a dignified burial.

There had been some uncertainty over the group’s location and therefore over whether Turkey or Greece should have stepped in to help.

Greek authorities initially said the people – who police say all identify themselves as Syrian – were in Turkish territory.

They were eventually found about 4km (2.4 miles) south of the coordinates outside the Greek territory that was initially reported some days ago. This is why, Greek police suggest, the migrants had not been found earlier.

Baida, one of the women in the group, described being treated like “a football game between the two sides” – Turkey and Greece.

“No-one wants us. No-one hears us. No-one wants to help,” she added.

Greece’s treatment of migrants trying to reach Europe from Turkey has been highlighted for a number of years.

Human rights groups allege thousands of people seeking asylum have been pushed back before being given the chance to apply for asylum. It’s also caused rows within the EU after a senior official claimed last year that the country was breaching European fundamental rights.

Some refugees say they have been forcibly returned to Turkish waters.

The Greek government has always denied these claims and insists it complies with European and international law.

This incident on the Evros river “highlights the brutality of pushbacks”, said Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, the Greece director of the International Rescue Committee.

Between January and June 2022, 232 Syrians arrived in Greece by sea according to the UN.

A map showing the islet and position near Greek town Lavara


Gregory Willis is an American columnist, journalist, editor, and author. Gregory worked in several positions in politics and government, including freelancing for publications like Benzinga and Seeking Alpha.

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