Turkey predicts millions of migrants will head to the EU
President Erdogan says Turkey can no longer uphold deal with Europe
The president of Turkey has predicted that “millions” of migrants and refugees will soon head towards Europe.
After announcing Turkey could no longer enforce a 2016 deal with the European Union to prevent migrants entering Europe, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his nation could not cope with a new wave of Syrian refugees.
Nearly a million Syrians have fled to the Turkish border as heavy fighting continues between Turkish-backed rebels and Syrian government forces.
Turkey, which already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, has previously stopped them from leaving for Europe.
However, in a televised address, Erdogan said the European Union had provided no help for resettling Syrian refugees in “safe zones” inside Syria.
After Turkey opened its doors for migrants to leave its territory for Europe last week, he said, “hundreds of thousands have crossed, soon it will reach millions”.
“Either we bring these people to a dignified life in their own land, or everyone will get their share of this burden. Now the unilateral sacrifice period is over,” he added.
There have already been clashes between refugees and the authorities in Greece. Last week, the Daily Mail reported that refugees “played a cat-and-mouse game with Greek border patrols” with some cutting holes in the fence only to be turned back by tear gas and stun grenades.
The Greek government described the confrontations as a threat to national security. “Do not attempt to enter Greece illegally – you will be turned back,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Twitter after a security meeting on the situation.
A child died after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos. CNN says it is believed to be the first reported death since Turkey’s announcement last week.
Under the 2016 deal, the European Union provided billions of euros in aid in return for Turkey agreeing to stem the influx of migrants into Europe.
Last October, the German interior minister said the EU nations should brace for the biggest influx of refugees so far.
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