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Greek police locate refugees in Evros, trapped for days between Greece, Turkey

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Greek police said Monday they had found a group of 38 Syrian refugees reported stranded for several days on an islet in the Evros border river between Turkey and Greece, Agence France-Presse reported.

NGOs and Greek media reported there was a dead child among the group, which police did not confirm.

“Following new information and extensive investigation a group of illegal immigrants who say they are Syrian has been found, including nine women and seven children,” Greek police stated.

The statement said the group, who included a pregnant woman, had been located “some four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the point initially declared which was outside Greek territory.”

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said the refugees “were found on a boat four kilometers south of the Turkish islet.”  He said they appeared to be in good health and added the pregnant woman had been taken to hospital.

NGOs and local media had earlier reported that dozens of people had been trapped on the island on the northern border with Turkey for several days with neither country immediately assuming responsibility for them.

On Saturday, the UN refugee agency UNHCR tweeted: “We continue to be gravely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of some 40 people allegedly stranded on an islet at the Greece-Turkiye border.

“According to reports received a child has tragically already died. Unless urgent action is taken, we fear further lives remain at stake.”

Mitarachi wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “we conducted repeated searches, with suitable technical means, without detecting any human presence in the islet.

“It has been confirmed that this is a point outside Greek territory so immediately we notified Turkish authorities.”

Following “published articles about the presence of migrants on an islet in Evros,” Greek police said they had informed Turkish border authorities about the case “twice” in recent days.

Greece has repeatedly been accused of illegally turning migrants back to Turkey at Evros and in the Aegean Sea, accusations which Athens denies.

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