Greece Repels Nearly 35,000 Migrants at Turkish Border

Christian Watjen
By Christian Watjen
March 6, 2020Europe

Greece has repelled nearly 35,000 migrants trying to cross into its territory illegally for a week, the Greek government said on Thursday. They’re on the move since Turkey canceled its agreement with the EU to block them.

Ankara claims Greek forces shot dead four migrants, a charge rejected by Athens, which says Turkish forces are helping the migrants to cross the border.

Some groups have said the situation at the border is “unacceptable” and claim that migrants’ rights have been violated. “Every country, every institution—like the European Union—has the right to set up policies, but these policies must never affect the dignity of the human beings,” said Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, during a visit at the border.

Last Thursday, Turkey said it would no longer abide by a 2016 deal with the EU to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for billions of euros in aid.

On Wednesday, EU interior ministers met in Brussels for emergency talks. In a statement, the ministers said, “illegal crossings will not be tolerated” and it “will take all necessary measures.”

Additionally, it promised Greece 700 million euros ($780 million) to help manage the situation.

The EU accuses Turkey of deliberately goading the migrants to cross the border as a way of pressuring Brussels into offering more money and to support its position in the Syrian civil war.

“Is necessary that everybody stands by their commitments and fulfills their commitments. We do not play with the lives of women and men who can take all the risk in a desire to emigrate towards Europe,” said French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

On Wednesday, the German parliament rejected the proposal to take in 5,000 migrants, mostly women and children, from overcrowded Greek camps. Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said there needs to be a European solution.

Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and faces another influx due to an upsurge in fighting in northwest Syria. It says it cannot take in any more, saying that EU aid is too little.

Reuters contributed to this report.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.