Greece assured that around forty migrants, apparently stranded on an islet in the Evros river bordering Turkey according to the UN, which reported a dead child among them, were not on its territory, referring the ball to Ankara.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, Greek Minister of Migration Notis Mitarachi clarified that Athens had informed the Turkish authorities that migrants were in this sector, but in “a point outside Greek territory”. Greek police “carried out multiple searches” but did not find any migrants on the Greek side, he said. Evros (Meriç in Turkish) marks the Greek-Turkish land border (northeast) over a length of about 200km.

On Saturday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had called for “urgent measures to be taken” to save “about forty people who would be stranded on an islet on the border between Greece and Turkey”. “According to the press information received, a child has tragically already died. Unless urgent action is taken, we fear more lives will be at stake,” the UNHCR tweeted. The Greek police, for their part, indicated that they had notified the Turkish border authorities of this case twice in recent days.

Human rights NGOs and the media have reported that these refugees have been victims of illegal pushbacks between Greece and Turkey and have been stranded on an island in Evros for several days. Greece has been repeatedly criticized for alleged illegal pushbacks of migrants to Turkey on its Evros land and sea border in the Aegean, according to testimonies from victims published by NGOs, AFP and other media. But Athens has always denied these accusations.