Greek police fired tear gas at migrants trying to push into Greece from Turkey through the land border Monday, and a child died when a dinghy boat capsized during a sea crossing, after Turkey opened its frontier for migrants and refugees to enter Europe.
The child’s death, reported by the Greek coast guard, was the first since thousands of migrants began massing at the frontiers with Greece over the weekend after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an easing of restrictions on those wishing to cross to Europe.
Turkey’s announcement, initially by an official on Thursday, marked a dramatic departure from a previous policy of containing the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants in Turkey. Erdogan apparently aims to pressure Europe into offering Turkey more support in dealing with the fallout from the Syrian war to its south.
Erdogan said Monday that Western leaders had started to call him urging him to reverse the border opening. He said he told them, “It’s done, the doors are open now. You will have your share of this burden now.” He added that soon “the number of people going to the border will be expressed in millions.”
Thousands of migrants on Monday tried to find a way across Turkey’s land border into Greece, which has made clear its borders will remain closed. Dozens managing to pass through either border fences or fording the river there. As Greek police fired tear gas, a group of several hundred holding white flags shouted “peace, peace,” asking to be let into Greece. Others were trying to reach Greek islands from the Turkish coast.
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