Twelve migrants have died from the cold near the Turkish town of Edirne, near the border with Greece. The Turkish interior minister has said the migrants tried to enter the neighbouring country but were turned back at the border.
“Twelve of the 22 migrants returned by Greek border units, stripped of their clothes and shoes, have frozen to death,” Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Twitter. Attached to that message are photos of bodies on the ground, taken at a border crossing. It was 2 degrees Celsius there, according to a local weather agency. It also rained.
Eleven migrants had already died when they were found. A twelfth person died in hospital. It is not known what nationality they had. Turkey is estimated to host around 5 million refugees and migrants, mainly from Syria. The government in Ankara believes that the EU is not doing enough to support Turkey in this.
Minister Soylu criticized the European Union in his tweet, which he says is “relentless, weak and devoid of human feelings”. He also described the Greek border services as “criminals against victims”.
Ankara and human rights organizations believe that Greece is guilty of so-called illegal pushbacks. According to the Turkish border guard, the Greeks returned more than 15,000 migrants last year. Fifteen bodies of migrants were found in 2021. Athens says it will adhere to international agreements and protect EU borders.