‘Fortress Europe’ Under Siege: Migrants at Turkish-Greek Border ‘Want Another Life’

Written by | Monday, March 9th, 2020

Thousands of migrants and refugees have gathered at the Turkish-Greek border, desperate to make it into the European Union in search for ‘another life’. “Life in Turkey is very tough. As soon as they open the gates, I’ll make my way to Germany,” says refugee from Afghanistan who looks much younger than his 18 years. While more than a thousand migrants have gathered at the border crossing, Turkish law enforcement officials are nowhere in sight. Some migrants have managed to get past the barbed wire and move into the border strip separating the two countries, before being stopped by Greek border guards who fired tear gas in their direction, forcing them to flee back to the Turkish side.
As a growing number of desperate migrants try to cross the border into the EU, people-smugglers are working in plain sight to thwart Greek border patrols. During one single night on Tuesday (3 March), they had reportedly thwarted another thousand attempted border crossings after several days of increased migrant activity along the 200-kilometre land and sea border. Most of those arrested on Tuesday alone came from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Bangladesh. Turkey hosts around 3.6 million Syrian refugees and the country’s president is facilitating their exit to pressure the EU to support his forces in Syria. Many refugees and migrants attempt at crossing the River Evros where the Greek military has been blasting messages over loudspeakers, urging them to “go back”. Along the banks of the river, illegal Turkish people-smugglers are openly recruiting migrants, promising to take them – some even for about 15 euros – across the border into Europe. They assert that Erdogan’s comments have given them a green-light to operate.
Meanwhile, thousands have gathered in German capital city on Tuesday to demand that Chancellor Angela Merkel change her stance and support the opening of the border between Turkey and the European Union for the migrants. At least three thousand people reportedly gathered in Berlin while similar protests were held in Hamburg and Potsdam. One of the groups behind the protests – “Seebrücke” or “Sea Bridge” – wrote online that it stands “against the policy of sealing off the EU and for the opening of the borders” and demands “safe passages and an end to the criminalization of civil sea rescue.” Protesters also described the deal between the EU and Turkey, which commits both sides to cooperate in stopping migrants from crossing into the EU from Turkey, as “toxic” and chanted “We have space!”

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