UN urges calm amid migrant surge at Turkey-Greece border
GENEVA, Switzerland – The United Nation called on Sunday, March 1, for calm and urged states to refrain from "excessive" force, as thousands of migrants have flooded to Turkey's border with Greece in a bid to enter the European Union.
The United Nations refugee agency said it was "calling for calm and easing of tensions on the border."
"While states have a legitimate right to control their borders and manage irregular movements, they should refrain from the use of excessive and disproportionate force and establish a system to seek asylum in an orderly manner," UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said in an email to Agence France-Presse (AFP)
A massive influx of migrants swelled along the border over the weekend after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to open its frontier to Europe as tensions mount over its deepening conflict in Syria. (READ: Turkey says pursuing military operation against Syrian regime)
The International Organization for Migration said late Saturday, February 29, that some 13,000 migrants have amassed at the Turkey-Greece border, including families with young children who spent the night in the cold.
An estimated additional 2,000 migrants arrived at the Pazarkule border gate Sunday, including Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis, according to an AFP reporter. (READ: Turkey-Russia tensions soar after deadly Syria strike)
Greece said Sunday it had blocked nearly 10,000 migrants at its border, after clashes erupted there Saturday with Greek police firing tear gas at migrants who in turn lobbed rocks at officers.
Baloch said UNHCR staff in Turkey's western provinces of Izmir, Canakkale and Edirne were "monitoring the increased movements of people, assessing their situation, (and) providing humanitarian assistance where needed.
The operation, in cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent, IOM and UNICEF, was also informing people on the move about the risks they would face "when trying to cross the border, by sea or land, irregularly," he said.
While urging states to refrain from using excessive force, UNHCR was also calling on asylum-seekers to "respect the law and refrain from creating situations threatening public order and security at borders and elsewhere," he said. – Rappler.com