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On an unnamed island near the Greek city of Lavara, a group of 38 migrants was found, including a late-term pregnant woman. The islet is located on the river Maritsa (Evros) on the border between Greece and Turkey. The migrants, they said, spent a month on the island before being discovered on Monday.
A group of 22 men, nine women and seven children were found by police and transported to mainland Greece. According to the Greek Minister of Immigration, they are all doing remarkably well, and the pregnant woman has been taken to the hospital for observation.
Migrants who call themselves Syrians say they have been on the island since mid-July.< br />
According to human rights activists, one child died while the group was on the island. A five-year-old girl reportedly died after being stung by a scorpion. There has been no confirmation of this information from the Greek authorities.
For some time, there has been a dispute between Greece and Turkey as to which of the two countries should take over the further care of the migrants, as it was not clear on whose territory they were found.
At first, the Greek authorities stated that, according to the reports received, the group was seen in Turkey. But on Monday evening, the Greek police reported that the migrants were found four kilometers south of the indicated coordinates, already on Greek territory.
According to Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis, a group of illegal migrants entered Greek territory on August 14, hid for a day, and then people came out, then the Greek police found them.
Migrants said they felt like “a soccer ball between two sides” – Turkey and Greece.
“Nobody needs us. Nobody hears us. Nobody is willing to help us,” complained one of the women in the group, who introduced herself as Baida.
In recent years, activists have often criticized Athens for its policy towards migrants arriving illegally from Turkey. According to human rights organizations, thousands of people who tried to enter Western Europe through Greece were forced out of its territory before they could ask for asylum.
Some migrants said that they were forcibly returned to Turkish waters.
This has caused friction within the EU – a senior EU official even said last year that Greece was violating basic European rights. The Greek authorities, in turn, say that Western European countries do not provide them with adequate assistance in solving the problem of illegal migration, leaving them face to face with the influx of refugees arriving from neighboring Turkey.
According to the director of the Greek branch of the International Committee rescue of Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, the Maritsa incident illustrates the cruelty of the policy of expelling migrants from the country.
Greece blames Turkey for what happened.
“A very important point arising from their statements , lies in the fact that they came from the Turkish bank of the river and were forced out to the islet by the Turkish authorities. The Turkish authorities detained these migrants in Turkey. But instead of giving them the right to apply for international protection, as is required by international law, the Turkish gendarmerie brought them to the banks of the Evros River and, threatening violence, forced them to move to Greece,” Notis Mitarakis said.
According to the UN, in the first six months of this year, 232 Syrians arrived illegally by sea in Greece.
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