Migrants beat, stripped at Greece-Turkey border

Migrants wait at the Turkey-Greece border in Pazarkule, Edirne, Turkey. Migrants wait at the Turkey-Greece border in Pazarkule, Edirne, Turkey. IHA via AP

18 March 2020

Violence erupts as thousands of Syrians flee Turkey, attempting to seek refuge in Greece. 

Greek border control forces have detained, sexually assaulted, robbed, and stripped people seeking asylum in Greece at the Greece-Turkey border. The Greek government has reported stopping nearly 10,000 people attempting to cross its border in a single 24-hour time span and has arrested 150 people. EU officials have commended the efforts by Greek border security. 

This movement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on 27 February that refugees and migrants would no longer be prohibited from trying to cross Turkey’s border into the European Union (EU). This statement contradicted a commitment the nation made with the EU in 2016 which stated that Turkey would hold migrants and refugees on their own land, banning them from crossing the border. Just weeks after this statement was released, the United Nations (UN) estimated that about 15,000 people were making their way across Turkey to the nearest land border, Greece.

“The European Union is hiding behind a shield of Greek security force abuse instead of helping Greece protect asylum seekers and relocate them safely throughout the EU,” said refugee rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch, Nadia Hardman. “The EU should protect people in need rather than support forces who beat, rob, strip, and dump asylum seekers and migrants back across the river.”

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war nine years ago it is estimated that 3.6 million refugees have fled to Turkey from Syria. Human Rights Watch is calling upon the Greek government to “immediately reverse its decision to deny asylum access to people coming from Turkey and investigate and prosecute any abusive officials.” They also believe that the “EU should help Greece by relocating in the EU asylum seekers from Turkey.” 

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Author: Teagan Foti; Editor: Noelle Musolino

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