By Lydia O’Kane
Tensions continued Wednesday along the Greek-Turkish border as Greek authorities fired tear gas and stun grenades to deter migrants crossing over the border from Turkey.
Turkey’s decision to open its borders to migrants comes after dozens of Turkish troops were killed amid a Russia-backed Syrian government offensive into Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.
Thousands of migrants have been making their way to the border since Turkey announced last week it would no longer honour a 2016 deal with the European Union to stop illegal migration movements to Europe in return for aid.
Humane and dignified response needed
Speaking about the border clashes, Advocacy and Policy officer for asylum and migration at Caritas Europa, Leila Bodeux said that “a humane and dignified response is really needed and this response needs to be a European one, so it means that Greece cannot be left alone.”
Currently, Greece is hosting tens of thousands of people in deteriorating conditions in migrant camps. Ms Bodeux noted that “migrants living in camps on the Greek Islands have been left in limbo who include women and children who don’t have access to basic services.”
Many, she said, “have fled the conflict in Syria, but there are also migrants from Afghanistan, from Iran and African countries.”
“We need to see solidarity towards Greece which means relocating also people who are being stuck in the Greek islands, to other European countries.”
EU leaders on Tuesday pledged 700 million euro in aid for Greece and called on Turkey to abide by the terms of the 2016 agreement.
As the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visits Ankara to discuss Turkey's decision to drop the migrants accord, Caritas Europa along with other humanitarian organizations are calling for the urgent evacuation and relocation of unaccompanied minors to other European countries.
Ms Bodeux underlined that there needs to be a “European solidarity mechanism” based on sharing to make sure that the responsibility to take care of people in need of protection “does not fall only on front line EU countries."
Globalization of indifference
At his Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis asked the faithful to join him in prayer for the many men, women and children who are displace by war.
Asked about the importance of the Pope’s voice at this time, the Advocacy and Policy officer said his words are greatly needed at this time because what really needs to be tackled is the “globalization of indifference”.