Refugees stream towards Greece after Turkey opens gates

 | Updated: Mar 03, 2020, 03:42 PM IST

Greece was on a state of alert Sunday as it faced an influx of thousands of migrants seeking to cross the border from Turkey, with locals fearing a new immigration crisis.

Let's take a look at the situation:

Migrants gathered

More than 13,000 migrants have gathered on the Turkish side of the river which runs 200 kilometres along the frontier and separates them from Greece and therefore the European Union.


Migrant emergency

The flow of migrants from Turkey has triggered fears of the European Union, a re-run of the 2015 migrant emergency when Greece became the main EU entry point for a million migrants, most of them refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. 


Greek Police trying to contain migrants

Greek police have been attempting to maintain calm and contain the flow of migrants, on Sunday using water cannon on them.

Migrants pressed on with efforts to enter Greece. Some attempted to swim across rivers or duck under fences, while others dragged suitcases as they marched towards the border where large crowds of migrants waited, some wrapped in blankets or sleeping on dirt mounds. 


Emergency meeting called

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called an emergency meeting with his foreign affairs and defence teams for Sunday evening to carve out a strategy.

They decided to step up the level of deterrence at Greece's eastern borders to the maximum and to suspend submission of new asylum applications by those illegally entering the country for one month.


People arrested for illegally entry

In the previous 24 hours, Greece blocked some 10,000 people from getting across its borders. Since 6:00 am on Sunday, a total of 5,500 people were barred from entering Greece illegally and 60 people were arrested and charged with illegally entering the country, government sources said late Sunday.


Islanders taking matters in their own hands

On the Greek islands, where a steady flow of inflatable dinghies and other crammed and unseaworthy craft arrived across the Aegean Sea in 2015, the locals have had enough despite Greece's efforts, a number of boats full of migrants arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos early Sunday.

A group of local people on Lesbos managed to stop around 50 migrants, including children, from landing their boat after several hours at sea, an AFP photographer witnessed.

Shouting "Go back to Turkey", furious locals at the port of Thermi blocked the boats and hurled insults at the local representative of the UN refugees agency, while others attacked journalists and photographers, hitting them and throwing cameras into the water. 



'Strong support from EU'

A Greek government source said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expects "strong support" from the European Union in a meeting with the three leaders of the bloc's institutions at the border area on Tuesday.