EDIRNE, Turkey 

A total of 11 irregular migrants were held near Turkey’s Greek border on Sunday after reportedly beaten by Greek security forces and forced to depart for Turkey, a Pakistani migrant told Anadolu Agency.

The migrant group — including Pakistani and Afghan nationals — were held by the local gendarmerie forces in the Kapikule area of Edirne, a northwestern Turkish province bordering Greece and Bulgaria, while attempting to illegally cross into Europe, said a source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

According to the source, one of the migrants was found unconscious.

They were later referred to provincial migration directorate.

The irregular migrants claimed that Greek authorities forcibly sent them to Turkey.

Pakistani irregular migrants told about their difficulties in the process of repatriation to Turkey.

Isa Yakoubi, a Pakistani migrant, told Anadolu Agency that the Greek security forces beat them and left them on the Turkish side.

“We do not have any money and are in a rough situation [but] the police in Turkey are nice,” he added.

Another Afghan migrant Faysal Hakimi also told Anadolu Agency that they wanted to go to Germany and said: “They [Greek forces] beat us and sent us back here. We also have a friend who is sick. They took our money and phones and sent us back with a boat.”

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry, and over 336,000 have been held so far this year.

* Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara.

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