Greece says it will try to retrieve the refugee girl's body from Evros islet

migrants stranded

Greece will try to retrieve the body of a 5-year-old girl who perished on a river islet on the Greece-Turkey border where she had been among a group of migrants abandoned there for several days, Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said on Tuesday.

Mitarachi was visiting Greece's wider Evros region a day after police found 35 Syrians and three Palestinians, one pregnant woman and seven children, who had been hiding in Greek territory after crossing the river from Turkey.

NGO agencies and media reports said the child from Syria travelling with her parents and sister had died of a scorpion sting.

Speaking from northeastern Greece on Tuesday, Mitarachi said the group told Greek authorities they had entered Greek territory on Aug. 14 and hid for a day before sending their location details. He said the migrants told Greek authorities they had been taken to the river by Turkish authorities, who had forced them to attempt the crossing to Greece.

“Officially, the Turkish authorities arrested these migrants within Turkey. They did not give them the right to apply for international protection, as Turkey is bound to do by international law,” Mitarachi said. “To the contrary, the Turkish gendarmerie brought them to the banks of the Evros and, with the threat of the use of violence, pressured them to come to Greece.”

Greek authorities said they had stopped a significant number of people from entering. Greece registered 4,126 migrant arrivals in May-July, up 113 % from the same period last year.