UNHCR investigates fate of 'dumped' Africans
GENEVA, July 27 (UNHCR) - The U.N. Refugee Agency said Friday it has sent a protection team to investigate reports that a group of Africans had been dumped on the border between Greece and Turkey and had reputedly suffered drowning and rape as they were forced back and forth across the river boundary between the two countries.
UNHCR was also in touch with both Turkish and Greek authorities, but the situation concerning the group remained confused.
Reports surfaced earlier in the week that an unknown group of Africans had become trapped in the border area after being brought there by Turkish authorities. One report suggested about 150 Africans had managed to return to Turkey, while another said a number remained trapped by the river.
The UNHCR team on the Greek side of the border has already checked the Ipsala crossing area, scanned some islands in the river in the restricted border zone and is travelling to other regions, but thus far has reported no sign of the African group.
During the first two weeks of July, there was a sizeable roundup of foreigners in the Turkish city of Istanbul and possibly in the capital, Ankara, reputedly including an estimated 250 Africans who were separated from other nationalities such as Afghans, Iranians and Iraqis. After this was brought to UNHCR's attention, authorities identified some 20 people who had lodged asylum claims and they were subsequently released.