Tensions rise on Greek-Turkish border amid migrant influx
The Greek coastguard has fired shots at a migrant boat on the Aegean Sea amid rising tensions with Turkey.
Video filmed from Turkey appeared to show an officer firing two rounds shots from an automatic rifle into the water near a crowded dinghy.
A young boy died when his boat capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos yesterday (Monday), the Greek police said.
The video showed apparently showed the coastguard threatening boats with poles.
A Greek coastguard spokesman refused to comment.
Turkey has been encouraging thousands of migrants to travel to the Greek land and sea borders.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that “millions” of migrants will soon head towards Europe.
In a televised address the populist president said he was abandoning the 2016 agreement with the European Union to prevent migrants from entering Europe.
Erdogan said the Turkish authorities could not cope with the latest influx of Syrian migrants after the conflict in Syria reignited last week.
Nearly 1 million Syrians have fled towards the Turkish border since December as fighting between Turkish-backed insurgents and the Syrian government gripped Idlib province.
Erdogan said the EU had provided no support for resettling Syrians in “safe zones” within Syria.
After Turkey allowed migrants to head west for Europe last week, the dictatorial president said, “hundreds of thousands have crossed, soon it will reach millions”.
Greece, however, said only approximately 1,000 new arrivals had reached its Aegean islands from Turkey since Sunday.
The right-wing Greek government said it prevented nearly 10,000 migrants from crossing its land border with Turkey in 24 hours. Stones and metal bars were thrown at the Greek border guards, who fired tear gas in response.
In March 2016, European Union leaders signed an agreement with Turkey to prevent migrants from leaving the country.
The deal was “celebrated by people who are dancing on the grave of refugee protection”, said Amnesty International’s European chief.
But after the agreement, the numbers arriving on Greek islands fell from 7,000 per day to a few hundred.
Brussels has allocated almost all the €6-billion fund for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
But Ankara argues that the money does not compensate for the more than US$30 billion helping 3.6 million Syrian migrants in Turkey. There are also 360,000 others, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.
Meanwhile, Greece has only managed to send 1,908 rejected asylum seekers back to Turkey, with human rights lawyers saying that their safety cannot be guaranteed at the hands of the Turkish authorities.
Idlib has been a rebel bastion. Picture credit: Pexels