Greece and Turkey exchanged accusations after 92 stripped people were found close to the countries’ border.
While arrivals have significantly decreased since the peak in 2015-16, the proportion of people losing their lives attempting to reach Greece has increased.
Meanwhile, reports and evidence of pushbacks by sea and land continue to mount from Greece.
Last Saturday, over 92 migrants who were found stripped naked by Greek authorities at the two countries’ joint border, a day after the United Nations called for an investigation into the incident.
Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi tweeted a photo of the naked migrants, some with bodily harm, accusing Turkey of pushing them into Greece and stripping them naked before doing so. The claim prompted Fahrettin Altun, the communications director of Turkey’s president, to accuse Greece of engaging in “fake news.”
Turkish Deputy Minister of Interior Ismail Catakli denied his country’s involvement in the incident.
“As you couldn’t find one single case of a human rights violation by Turkey, you just seek to expose the image of your own cruelty as if Turkey did it,” Catakli said on Twitter replying to a tweet by the Greek Minister of Migration Notis Mitarachi.
Catakli also called on Greece to stop “manipulation and dishonesty”.
Tensions running high between the two neighbors
The exchange of accusations comes at a time when tensions between the two neighbors is running high, with the two engaging in mutual accusations of airspace violations and Turkey accusing Greece of militarizing islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of international treaties and threatening possible military action.
“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,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference at the end of meeting in Istanbul of the foreign ministers of Turkic states.
“It is natural that Greece … attempts to slander Turkey as its crimes increases,” Cavusoglu said. “Unfortunately, there are European Union member countries who want to believe this, who want to accept everything that Greece says as true … This is what encourages Greece.”
UN expresses concern over the incident
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says “it is deeply distressed by the shocking reports and images” of 92 people found at the Greek-Turkish land border stripped of their clothes.
“We condemn such cruel and degrading treatment and call for a full investigation into this incident,” the UNHCR said on Twitter without blaming any party.