Thousands of refugees and migrants continue to gather at Greece’s border with Turkey in Evros, following Ankara’s decision to stop preventing migrants from marching towards the EU.
On Saturday morning, tensions rose as groups of refugees and migrants tried to illegally cross the border and enter Greek territory.
Greece continues to strengthen its police and military presence in the area since its Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared that Athens will not tolerate any illegal entry to the country.
Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security.
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) February 28, 2020
The Turkish side does not even attempt to stop the refugees and migrants anymore, who are heading towards Evros from every part of the country since the rumour that ”the borders are open” has spread everywhere.
The situation is chaotic, as there are reports on social media suggesting that the Turkish side pushes the migrants toward the Greek side, while the Greek police respond with tear gas to push them back.
#Evros this morning: hundreds of migrants and refugees remain stuck at Kastanies crossing point Tear gas deterrence by Greek authorities continues when they get too close to police cordon Refugee who shot this video says they are afraid to go back, intend to stay pic.twitter.com/wwL32OIGD1
— Giorgos Christides (@g_christides) February 29, 2020
Greek border guards, along with members of FRONTEX, which is the European Union’s external border agency, have been trying to locate all those who attempt to enter Greece’s and therefore EU’s territory.
Most of the refugees and migrants are now stuck in the area between Greece and Turkey, at the Turkish side of the Evros river, waiting to find the opportunity to cross.
Meeting in Athens
The migration crisis was the subject of a broad interministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion on Saturday morning.
The meeting is attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias, Citizen Protection Minister Michael Chrisochoides and Deputy Minister Lefteris Oikonomou, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Deputy Minister Alcibiades Stefanis, the chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) General Konstantinos Floros, and representatives of the Greek Coast Guard.
The situation in the Aegean Sea
A total of 300 immigrants and refugees crossed the Eastern Aegean Sea and landed on Greece’s islands in the last 24 hours.
Dinghies trying to reach Greece’s shores have been spotted on the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios and Megisti on Castellorizo.
Greek authorities are increasing the Coast Guard’s and FRONTEX’s presence across the sea border with Turkey.