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ACHRS Condemns the Use of Force against Refugees at the Turkish-Greek Border

After 33 Turkish soldiers were killed on Thursday in an air raid in the Northern Syrian city of Idlib the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he will open the borders to Greece. The president has voiced complains over the lack of international support in the Turkish military campaign in Syria and the lack of assistance in hosting millions of refugees. He has stated the European Union has not held up its end of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal.

Over the past couple of days thousands of refugees, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have gathered at the border and are hoping to make their way to Europe. It is reported that the mass movement started after Ankara had announced that they would allow refugees to travel freely.

The international community estimates that around 13,000 people have now gathered along the 212km long border between Turkey and Greece. The land border, which is 160km long, is regarded as relatively strong as it contains natural defenses. The maritime border is not as strong as the land border. It is patrolled by about 40 coastal patrol vessels from Greece. On Friday Greece asked for additional assistance from the European Union to build another 19 vessels.

The Greek government has repeatedly stated that they will continue to protect their borders and will not allow illegal migration. Greek authorities has stated that they rebuffed attempts by approximately 4000 people to cross the border and have arrested 170. The Greek police has used tear gas at about 300 refugees who tried to cross the land border. Bulgaria has now also deployed an additional 1000 soldier along its borders. ACHRS pleads that the international community, and especially the countries involved guarantee the safety of all refugees.

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