Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Greece and Turkey willingly refuse refugees

by Betül Duru
Thu, Mar 26th 2020 03:45 pm
Millions of Syrian people have been displaced due to violence in the region. As more and more of them migrate, countries have proved unwilling to help, forcing many Syrians to camp outside and huddle in blankets to stay warm.
Millions of Syrian people have been displaced due to violence in the region. As more and more of them migrate, countries have proved unwilling to help, forcing many Syrians to camp outside and huddle in blankets to stay warm.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Turkey opened its borders to Greece, allowing the Syrian refugees to leave for the European Union (EU). The Syrian refugees were trying to cross into the EU since the start of the civil war in Syria but this was the first chance they had where the Turkish officials were encouraging them to cross the border, at times even helping them.

In the past Turkey’s president Recep Tayip Erdogan agreed to help the Syrian refugees in exchange for monetary help from the EU. 

“Erdogan maintains the EU has not upheld its end of a more than €6 billion deal brokered to stem the flow of refugees and migrants into Europe, after more than a million people entered the European Union in 2015,” AlJazeera reports. 

When approximately 34 soldiers were killed in Idlib, Erdogan decided there was not any advantage in letting Syrian refugees reside in Turkey. 

“Turkey already hosts nearly four million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world. Officials say the country cannot handle another refugee wave,” according to Middle East Eye. “Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.”

Accordingly, the Syrian refugees also want to leave Turkey for better countries. However, those countries do not want them in their countries as it is evident from the treatment the Greeks have shown them. 

“Thousands of migrants and refugees have been trying to enter Greece through Turkey’s eastern land and sea borders over the past week after Turkey declared that its previously guarded borders with Europe were open,” according to the Guardian. 

However, Greek officials and the EU were not happy with Syrians trying to cross over. Their response to these innocent war torn people was aggressive; they attempted to force the Syrian refugees to reenter Turkey. 

“Clashes have erupted on the Greek-Turkish border with Greek authorities using tear gas and a water cannon to hold back refugees and migrants trying to push through the frontier into Greece,” according to The Guardian.

The Turkish government also did not want the Syrians to reenter Turkey. 

“There were also reports of tear gas being fired from the Turkish side of the border into Greece,” according to The Guardian. 

While Erdogan has told the refugees that the border is open for them to cross and even provided transportation to them, EU officials have rejected this. 

In a blunt message, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said: “Don’t go to the border. The border is not open. If someone tells you that you can go because the border is open… that is not true.”

Some refugees were able to cross the border by swimming across the Mediterranean Sea but were mistreated by Greek officials. 

“Refugees attempting to enter Greece from Turkey have told reporters they were caught by Greek security forces and stripped of their clothes, documents and money, and sent back in their underwear,” according to the Middle East Eye. “Harrowing videos published by Turkish state broadcaster TRT showed groups of Syrian and Afghan refugees huddling around a fire in their underwear as they struggled to keep warm.”

Accordingly, Erdogan has claimed he will help the refugees cross and go as far as they can after taking a diplomatic trip to Moscow. He will accomplish this by sending 1,000 special operation police to the region to protect the refugees from the Greeks who want to send them back. However, this will not protect the Syrians or any of the others trying to escape. The innocent people trying to cross will be in a crossfire between the Turks and the Greeks. 

Many non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) in the EU have shown their concern for the health and wellness of the refugees stuck between the two countries. 

“Meanwhile, the EU is under fire from human-rights NGO’s for accepting Greece’s decision to suspend asylum applications for one month,” according to The Guardian. “In an open letter to EU leaders and the Greek prime minister Kyriákos Mitsotákis, 85 charities, including Action Aid and Amnesty International, said they were ‘deeply concerned’ about how authorities were handling new arrivals to Greece.”

In the end, this event will probably only be remembered as a ploy between heads of state to exaggerate their circumstances while millions of vulnerable, innocent people die and the politicians are left unaffected. 

Photo of the Week

Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

Author List