Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Europe it will have to accept the ‘burden’ of ‘millions’ of incoming migrants as Greece today tried to fend off an ‘invasion’ of people after Turkey threw open its borders.
More than 13,000 migrants have gathered on the Turkish side of the river which runs 125 miles along the frontier and separates them from Greece, and therefore the EU.
Greek police were today firing tear gas at the crowds, as migrants tried to swim across the river or squeeze through fences at one of the few land crossings, although only dozens have succeeded so far.
The UN refugee agency says around 1,200 people have arrived on Greek islands in the last two days. One child died when a dinghy boat capsized during a sea crossing, the Greek coast guard said today.
Turkish security forces also claimed that a Syrian migrant had died from injuries after a clash with Greek security forces, but Athens has today branded the claim and an associated video ‘fake news’.
The flow of migrants has triggered fears of a re-run of the 2015 refugee crisis when a million people crossed into Europe, most of them fleeing the Syrian civil war.
‘This is what happened in 2015, it’s repeating itself. Thousands at our borders, God help us,’ said a 63-year-old resident of the border village of Kastanies.
Erdogan has been guarding Europe’s border since then but opened the doors to his country’s 3.6million refugees on Friday, in a move he has long threatened, hoping to pressure Western leaders over the conflict in Syria.
He is already facing a backlash in Europe today where German chancellor Angela Merkel said it was ‘unacceptable’ to pressure the EU ‘on the back of refugees’.