Greek police found 38 migrants near the Turkish border

By COSTAS KANTOURIS, Associated Press

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Greek police said they found 38 migrants who were reported stranded on an islet in the Evros River on the Greece-Turkey border.

Police said they found 22 men, 9 women and 7 children on Monday at a site inside Greek territory, away from the river, 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) south of where the group allegedly been blocked. A woman is pregnant.

A Greek police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about an ongoing case, told The Associated Press that police had not found dead child, as the charity Greek Council of Refugees reported last week. All 38 were healthy, the official said.

The group told police they were from Syria. The police have sent food and water to the migrants and will move them to a reception center for migrants.

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Police said last week they had followed up successive reports of migrants stranded on the islets of Evros, but found no one. Greece had said last week that the coordinates given to them placed the group in Turkey, not Greece.

The head of the Greek Council for Refugees, Vassilis Papadopoulos, said his group first heard about the migrants in mid-July. He said around 50 people are believed to have crossed to the Greek side but were then sent back to Turkey. The migrants also told his group that the Turkish authorities would have sent them from one islet to another, until they ended up stranded on a Greek islet in the middle of the river. Papadopoulos said the migrants stayed on the islet because they feared physical violence if they returned to Greece.

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa try to enter Greece illegally from Turkey every year, hoping for a better life in Europe.

Greece has strongly denied persistent allegations that it is committing pushbacks – sending asylum seekers who reach its territory back to the country from which they entered without being allowed to seek asylum. It is illegal under international law.

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