Greece, Turkey trade barbs over migrants crossing into Europe

Turkey releases video showing migrant boat repelled by Greek coastguards.

Turkey has released new footage showing refugees and migrants being repelled by Greek coastguards off Lesbos, a Greek island, with vessels driving perilously close to dinghies and firing shots in the water close to them.

Greece released images purporting to show Turkish vessels escorting migrant boats inside its territorial waters.

Ankara, which opened a new war front in Syria‘s northwestern Idlib province after forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad killed at least 33 Turkish troops, said it would allow refugees passage to Europe.

The Turkish government ordered its coastguard and border police to not prevent people from crossing into Europe after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could no longer handle the new waves of people fleeing Idlib.

“I had been in Turkey for two months. A smuggler called me in the night and said the boat is ready, get ready to cross over. He said the border was open,” 15-year-old Ali Gulali from Afghanistan told Al Jazeera on Lesbos.

The migrants that have made it to Greece have found that life does not get any better. Asylum processing is slow and many have been forced to set up camp under olive trees for months.

“We need [to see] a doctor. The situation is very difficult. We don’t have good food or water so we need to see a doctor, it’s very important,” Amir al-Salah, an Afghan refugee, told Al Jazeera.

Then earlier this week, Athens said it will stop receiving asylum applications for a month and will turn around undocumented migrants and send them home without the usual reception or identity verification procedure.

The new arrivals have found themselves caught in a dispute between Turkey and Greece that has implications for all of Europe. 

Source: Al Jazeera