Refugees and migrants on the Turkish-Greek border continue to pursue their hopes of crossing to Europe with dreams of starting a new life after 17 days of struggle against Greece's harsh measures.
Estimated to now host approximately 8,000 to 10,000 refugees and migrants, the buffer zone between the two countries has become the scene for yet another migrant crisis that the world has to witness in recent years. Started last month with Turkey's decision to open the borders to the Europe, the migrants have been enduring violent treatment by Greek border guards as well as harsh weather conditions and a lack of proper food and shelter.
While the Greek side does whatever it takes to worsen the conditions of the migrants and overlooks human rights principles by doing so, Turkey, in contrast, has accelerated efforts to ease the displaced people's circumstances in the buffer zone.
Currently, the country has been providing food, proper clothing in accordance with the weather as well as health services to the refugees and migrants. The food is being provided by the country's immigration authority three times in a day while health facilities host the migrants whenever there is a violent attack from the Greek side. So far, during the Greek attacks, three migrants have been killed while more than 200 have been injured and hospitalized in Turkey.
However, apart from Greece's merciless attacks, the migrants also have to pursue a survival fight against the climate which recently has gotten colder. The cold waves coming from the Balkans took the region under its influence on Sunday, bringing heavy rain with it.
Last month, Turkish authorities announced that they would no longer prevent the flow of migrants who wanted to reach Europe.
The decision was made after 36 Turkish soldiers were killed by Bashar Assad regime forces in Idlib in northwestern Syria. The Turkish soldiers were deployed to the region to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited.
Greece's response to irregular migrants and asylum seekers has been harsh, with many battered and tear-gassed, and at least two killed by Greek security forces. The Greek government also asked for the EU's help to secure its borders and announced that it had stopped accepting asylum claims for a month due to the increased migratory pressure.
Elsewhere Greek soldiers were building fences along the Maritsa river, where thousands of refugees try to cross over Greece, rather than waiting in the buffer zone for the gates to be opened.
As a country that shares maritime and land borders with Bulgaria and Greece, Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives. Either fleeing poverty or prevailing conflicts, thousands arrive in Turkey every year to take their chance at illegally crossing into Europe.
Illegal migrants take the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea routes to access European countries. The Aegean is the most popular as it is dotted with Greek islands in close proximity to Turkish shores. Prior to their travel to Turkey's Aegean shores, migrants typically enter Turkey from the country's southern or eastern borders.
Turkey slams Greece
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Sunday Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias' remarks on social media were "concrete evidence of the inconsistent, double-standard, illegal and inhumane policies" pursued by Greece against asylum seekers and refugees at its doors.
In a written statement, Aksoy said: "Greece does not protect the borders of the European Union; to the contrary, (it) disgracefully tramples on the very principles and values this Union was built upon, by treating the migrants coming to its gates as enemies instead of human beings."
Greece is attacking asylum seekers, refugees and migrants without sparing women and children, by using gas, bullets and pesticides "which remind(s) of Nazi practices," Aksoy said.
Aksoy noted that Greece disregards "international law, human rights and European values, on which it keeps harping on."
"Greece is violating all of the legal instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and U.N. Convention Against Torture simultaneously," he said.
"The attempts of Greece, who does not seem to be able to approach problems with a comprehensive and humanitarian point of view, to abuse the EU and irregular migrants as tools for its short-term political interests are the main sources of the problems in our region."
On the maritime jurisdiction zone in the Mediterranean Sea, Aksoy said Greece's claims of maximalist maritime jurisdiction contrary to the international law not only violate the rights of Turkey but also those of Libya.
Aksoy said Dendias errs also on the Libya issue.
Referring to the problems of the Turkish minority, Aksoy said while Greece identifies the Greek minority in Albania as Greeks, "it is also hypocritical that it does not call the Turkish minority in Greece, Turkish."
"Minister Dendias seems to have forgotten that the European Court of Human Rights has found multiple violations by Greece in this regard," he added.
"Our (Turkey's) desire is to be able to find rationalist and common solutions to all the challenges in our region within a framework of good neighborly relations and cooperation, without resorting to blame games," the foreign ministry spokesperson added.
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