AP Explains: The New Migration Crisis at EU, Greece’s Borders

Migrants arrive at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing on a dinghy the Aegean sea from Turkey on Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

ANKARA — Facing a wave of nearly a million people fleeing fighting in northern Syria, Turkey has thrown open its borders with Greece to thousands of refugees and other migrants trying to enter Europe, and has threatened to send “millions” more.

Greece responded by closing the land border, rushing in military and police reinforcements, and tried to stop migrant boats attempting the short but perilous crossing from the Turkish coast to its eastern islands.

Human rights organizations have called for urgent action to stop the situation from deteriorating further, warning of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Here is a look at the situation at the border, and at whether this the beginning of another migration crisis for Europe.

WHO ARE THE MIGRANTS GATHERED AT THE GREEK BORDER?

Turkey hosts 4 million refugees, some 3.6 million of them from Syria. Previously, their movement inside Turkey was strictly regulated and under a 2016 deal with the European Union, Turkey tightened border controls. Since Ankara announced last week that it would not impede those seeking to enter Europe, thousands of Afghans, Iranians, Syrians, Pakistanis and others from Africa and Asia have rushed to try their luck.

Although the push ostensibly stems from the conflict to Turkey’s south, Greek officials say very few of the recent arrivals are Syrians. Most of those arrested Monday were Afghans, Pakistanis and Moroccans. Figures from January, before the intensified fighting in Syria, show 35 percent of those who entered Greece from Turkey were Afghans. Syrians accounted for 14 percent.

HOW MANY HAVE CROSSED INTO GREECE?

By late Monday, Greek authorities had arrested and charged 183 people with illegal entry after crossing the land border with Turkey. Some 24,000 attempts to pass have been thwarted since Saturday. Nearly 1,000 arrived on the Greek islands in the 24 hours up to Monday morning. According to the U.N.’s International Organization of Migration, 13,000 had gathered at the 212-kilometer (132-mile) border by Saturday evening. Turkey, meanwhile, says that more than 100,000 refugees have left its territory but there is no evidence to support this claim. Uneasy NATO allies Greece and Turkey are historic regional rivals who came close to war three times in the past half-century, and even before this crisis relations were tense over undersea exploration rights.

WHY HAS ERDOGAN OPENED THE GATES?

Turkey has long complained about the lack of support it receives for shouldering the burden of caring for the world’s largest refugee population. Despite the promise of 6 billion euros to pay for services for Syrians, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to renegotiate the deal with the EU. He says Turkey has spent $40 billion to date on hosting refugees. Ankara also seeks support for its policy in Syria, where it opposes Syrian President Bashar Assad and Kurdish fighters linked to the PKK, which has fought a 35-year insurgency inside Turkey. Erdogan wants to use some territory seized from the Kurds in October to resettle refugees from Turkey but the plan has met with little international support.

COULD THIS BE 2015 ALL OVER AGAIN?

In 2015 a million refugees reached Europe, crossing mainly from Turkey to Greece, and to a lesser degree from countries such as Libya to Italy. Although Erdogan said Monday that “millions” would soon be waiting to cross the Greek border, EU border states such as Greece and Bulgaria have quickly mobilized police, border guards and the military to deal with the scenario and seem better prepared to halt large-scale land crossings than in 2015. Sea crossings, however, are much harder to stop. With the Turkish coast guard doing nothing to halt migrant boats heading for the Greek islands, once the flimsy, overcrowded vessels are inside Greek waters they can’t be turned back. Very often, their occupants need to be rescued from sinking or crippled boats. Late last year arrivals in Greece were at their highest level since 2016, even before Turkey removed its border controls, and the EU fears a repeat of the crisis that triggered divisions among member states.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR GREECE?

Even before the current crisis, Greece was struggling to cope with tens of thousands of migrants who had entered from Turkey. Most want to continue to more prosperous EU countries such as Germany, but are stuck in Greece following border shutdowns in countries further along their route. Island migrant camps are many times above capacity – more than 20,000 people are on Lesbos alone – and living conditions there are dire. Under the EU-Turkey deal, new arrivals must stay on the islands until their asylum bids are processed, but the lengthy asylum process has led to a big backlog. Island residents are running out of patience after five years of bearing the brunt of Europe’s migrant influx, and Greek government efforts last week to build new detention camps on Lesbos and Chios provoked riots on the islands.

By ANDREW WILKS and NICHOLAS PAPHITIS Associated Press

4 Comments

  1. ” Most want to continue to more prosperous EU countries such as Germany, but are stuck in Greece following border shutdowns in countries further along their route.”
    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” –Albert Einstein

  2. There are TWO take aways from one of the many C.I.A and State department propaganda outlets…ASSOCIATED PRESS… who have been one of the media collaborators who Donald Trump publically states ..were responsible with the Obama , Clinton and Bush administrations for the killing of “Millions of people in the Middle East , thousands of America soldiers. in fraudulently intervening to overthrow the governments of the Middle East …”BASED ON LIES AND FALSE PREMISES”

    TRUMP CALLED THESE REGIME CHANGE WAR CRIMES… “THE WORST MISTAKE IN U.S HISTORY”
    TRUMP ISSUED THIS INDICTMENT WHEN TRYING FOR THE 3 RD TIME REMOVE ILLEGAL U.S TROOPS FROM SYRIA AND BEING PUBLICALLY CRITICIZE BY THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN WAR CRIMINALS AND MONGERS ..WHO HAVE PERPETRATED THE WARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAT HAS LED TO THE MIGRANT CRISIS IN GREECE AND EUROPE!

    THE TAKE AWAY.IS THE FALSE NARRATIVE THAT THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MIGRANT CRISIS, BECAUSE HE INDECENTLY TRIES TO LIBERATE SYRIANS HELD HOSTAGE BY TURKEY AND US. ..PROXY TERRORIST ARMIES WHICH INCLUDE AL QUEDA ..YOU KNOW THE 9/11 TERRORIST OF BIN LADEN WHO KILLED 3000 AMERICANS IN NEW YORK IS THAT..OF COURSE, ALL THE MIGRANTS COME FROM ALL THE COUNTRIES NATO HAS GENOCIED WITH U.S..WHICH INCLUDE.THERE INTERNATIONAL JIHADIST OF SUNNI MUSLIM DOCTRINES OF SAUDI ARABIA.OF MOROCO YEMEN, LIBYA, IRAQ, SOMALIA, LEBANON, PALESTINIANS, ALL THE VICTIMS OF U.S AND NATO WAR CRIMES!

    THE SECOND TAKEAWAY…

  3. cont..

    The United States is willing to provide ammunition along with humanitarian assistance to Turkey in Syria’s Idlib region, the US special representative for the region, James Jeffrey, told reporters on Tuesday.

    “Turkey is a NATO ally. Much of the military uses American equipment. We will make sure that equipment is ready and usable,” Jeffrey said in a statement.

    Separately, the US ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, said at a briefing that Washington is examining Ankara’s request for air defense systems, Reuters reports.

    Why does Associated Press unlike most of the non western world.. .. not consider U.S Nato enemies of humanity and world peace, when a NATO member Turkey and U.S engages in clear-cut foreign aggression in Cyprus, Iraq, libya and now Syria and sponsors internationally recognized Terrorist organization in violation of the U.N. Charter’s prohibition against that, and explicitly violating the International Criminal Court’s “Crime of Aggression” ?

    NATO will spew its standard hate-propaganda against the countries that were and are victims of that blatantly illegal aggression by the NATO member-country.

    Notwithstanding NATO’s sometimes diplomatic language, it is — after Russia ended its side of the Cold War in 1991 — basically an extremely dangerous militarized hate-organization, of which every one of its member-nations should be profoundly embarrassed to belong including Greece

    And Mistotakis turns over Greek military and ..

    1. cont..

      and bases to the number one ally of America, but number one enemy of Greece…Edrogan and Turkey ..not to protect the sovereignty of Greece or its people , but to protect U.S agent Mistotakis and the ruling corrupt government of Greece to stay in power and represent the interests of the degenerate war criminals of US and Nato police states, and to protect EDROGAN AND TURKEY from justifiable Greek reprisals against Turkey aggression on Cyprus, Greece, and Syria!

      The whole world is now watching the revelation that U.S and Nato..are an organized crime family of Fascist totalitarian government.who now by committee, align to do what ADOLPH HITLER never completed..defeating Russia and conquering the world .to spread the Arian Race of Exceptional culture and race…just like the Democrats and Republicans all agree ..must be advanced by America!

      Syria,the first road taken by Paul to preach the gospel of Christ is appropriately..where he has decided to confront.the demonic Evil empires of Trump and Edrogan,the people of Syria ..will never have peace and will continue to suffer,.until U.S has consolidated there illegal occupation of the oil and gas fields of Syria.. and Edrogan has been rewarded by U.S led Nato..by taking over IDLIB, SYRIA and Northern Syria ..just like Northern Cyprus!

      If Syria goes down if will because, the good lord has decided to take us all down ..and start all over!

      The players in place..Russia, Syria , Turkey, Israel and U.S!.

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