Boy dies as migrants try to cross Greek-Turkish border

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A boy has died after a boat full of migrants capsized on its way to a Greek island, as thousands attempted to cross Greece’s land and sea borders.

It was the first death since neighbouring Turkey announced last week that it was easing restrictions on those wishing to travel to Europe, in a dramatic departure from its agreement with the EU.

Its previous policy was to hold refugees and other migrants, hosting more than 3.5 million of those fleeing Syrian conflict.

But Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now demanded more support from Europe in dealing with the consequences of the war to its south.

He said told Western leaders yesterday: “It's done, the gates are open now. You will have your share of this burden now.”

Greece has made clear its borders will remain closed and authorities said they have stopped more than 24,000 attempted illegal crossings at the land border since early Saturday, and arrested 183 people.

Zoe Gardner, policy adviser at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said the situation was “completely predictable”.

She told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “The response to the 2015 crisis was completely shambolic and absolutely backward looking and inward looking on the part of the whole of the EU and so it was absolutely inevitable that this was going to become a problem again.

“It will always continue to be a problem because regardless of what some people might wish, we can’t make these people disappear and we know how terrible, horrific, nightmarish the situation is currently in Syria.

“These people have to leave Syria and they simply won't disappear.”

Ms Gardner called for the UK and EU to invest in providing “dignified and safe” conditions for refugees.

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