Gunfire might be heard from the Greek facet of the River Evros on the Turkish border on Saturday, as migrants tried to cross the waterway to get into Greece and the refugee disaster that intensified with Syria’s civil conflict shifted again onto the European Union’s doorstep.
Some folks have been seen wading by means of the water, whereas others used small, inflatable boats and paddled throughout. Earlier Saturday, Greek police fired tear fuel to push again tons of of stone-throwing migrants who have been attempting to cross the border from the Turkish state of Edirne.
The developments got here after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Friday that his nation’s borders with Europe have been open, making good on a menace to let refugees into the continent as hundreds of migrants gathered on the frontier with Greece.
The overwhelming majority of the migrants have been from Afghanistan and most have been males, though there have been additionally some households with younger kids. Iranians, Iraqis, Moroccans and Pakistanis have been additionally gathered.
We are on the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Turkey?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#Turkey</a>-<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Greece?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#Greece</a> border – Greek border police have been often firing pepper/tear fuel to maintain folks again. It obtained very crowded, many have spent the evening right here in freezing temperatures. More refugees and migrants are arriving, hoping to cross into Europe. <a href=”https://t.co/b4qdICev3q”>pic.twitter.com/b4qdICev3q</a>
Greece, which has tense relations with its neighbour Turkey at the perfect of instances and was a main gateway for tons of of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa in 2015 and 2016, has reiterated it can maintain this spherical of migrants out.
Greece stated it was sending police and armed forces reinforcements to its land border and reinforcing controls alongside the ocean border, the place 52 coast guard and navy vessels have been patrolling.
“The authorities will do no matter it takes to defend its borders,” authorities spokesperson Stelios Petsas informed reporters.
Ankara stated on Thursday it can not comprise tons of of hundreds of asylum seekers dwelling in its refugee camps after an airstrike on war-ravaged Idlib in Syria killed 33 Turkish troopers.
Almost instantly, convoys of individuals appeared heading towards the Greek land and sea borders.
“This has nothing to do with Idlib,” Petsas stated, including that previously 24 hours Greek authorities had prevented makes an attempt by 4,000 folks to cross the border.
Greece’s Skai TV aired dwell video from the Turkish facet of the northern land border at Kastanies exhibiting Greek riot police firing tear fuel rounds at teams of migrants who have been hurling stones and shouting obscenities.
A Reuters witness stated there have been about 500 folks within the buffer zone between the 2 border posts, and past that on the Turkish facet tons of extra.
Overnight, demonstrators hurled flaming items of wooden at police, novice footage filmed by a police official on the scene, which was seen by Reuters, confirmed.
An estimated 3,000 folks had gathered on the Turkish facet of the border at Kastanies, a Greek authorities official stated. Kastanies is simply over 900 kilometres north-east of Athens.
Without offering supporting proof, Erdogan stated on Saturday that some 18,000 migrants crossed borders from Turkey into Europe after his nation “opened the doorways” on Friday.
Greek police have been maintaining media a few kilometre away from the Kastanies border crossing, however the broader space, the place the 2 international locations are divided by the Evros River, was extra permeable. A gaggle of Afghans with younger kids waded throughout fast-moving waters of the river and took refuge in a small chapel. They crossed into Greece on Friday morning.
“Today is nice,” stated Shir Agha, 30, in damaged English. “Before, Erdogan folks, police downside,” he stated. Their sneakers have been caked in mud. It had rained closely the evening earlier than, and by early morning, temperatures have been shut to freezing.
Greece had already stated on Thursday it will tighten border controls to forestall coronavirus reaching its Aegean islands, the place hundreds of migrants reside in poor circumstances.
Nearly one million refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to Greece’s islands in 2015, setting off a disaster over immigration in Europe, however that route all however closed after the European Union and Ankara agreed to cease the circulation in March 2016.