UN officials are concerned by reports that Greek officials are sending back irregular migrants coming via Turkey -- “push-back” -- with no opportunity for them to seek asylum, including reports of violence.
The alleged policy made headlines this week after three migrants were found in Turkish villages, without trousers or shoes, apparently frozen to death, reportedly victims of the policy.
The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR "continues to receive numerous credible reports of alleged push-backs by Greek authorities, including by detaining persons, giving no opportunity to apply for asylum, and then summarily returning them to Turkey via the [border Meric] Evros River, with violence sometimes being used," said a UN statement Wednesday.
"Such reports are certainly a concern and UNHCR has raised this issue with the Greek authorities in the past and called for preventive measures," the statement added.
The Meric River -- called Evros in Greek -- is a dangerous route for irregular migrants, especially in winter, said the agency statement.
The alleged “push-back” policy is risky, especially for children and other vulnerable individuals, said the UNHCR.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Olga Gerovasili denied the reports.