Pictures from the Other Side: Helpless Migrants in a Geopolitical Game They Can’t Understand

Migrants, caught in a geopolitical game they don’t even comprehend, are sleeping in the open near Evros on the Turkish side of the border. Photo by Greek Reporter

Yet more migrants and refugees continued to arrive on Tuesday from Istanbul and other cities on the Turkish side of the border with Greece, Greek Reporter learns from sources on the ground.

Despite the fact that Athens has stressed that anyone caught entering Greece illegally will be arrested and held in detention and return centers, at least 15,000 people have converged at Evros since Friday, hoping to cross into the country.

“Most of those on the move are men,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Sunday, adding that there are also “many family groups traveling with young children” heading to the Greek border.

The first pop-up tents are beginning to appear along the Evros border as the crowds falsely believe that it is a matter of time for the Greek border to open. Photo by Greek Reporter

The mass movement has been instigated by Turkish authorities who have declared that their border is open, which is true, but they fail to inform people that the Greek border has actually been completely closed.

Now, even the locals themselves are calling on Turkish authorities through the “What’s Up” app to stop spreading these rumors about open borders.

Migrants sleeping out in the open on Turkish farm. Photo by Greek Reporter

Most of the migrants and refugees stuck at Evros are expecting the Greek border to open and are being told that it’s up to them to push as hard as they can to make this happen.

Most who have traveled to Evros by trains, buses and taxis have taken few belongings, since they have been convinced that their ordeal crossing over into European territory will be a short one.

Buses from other parts of Turkey continue to transport migrants near Evros. Photo by Greek Reporter

Greek Reporter learns that Turkish authorities including the army have opened soup kitchens in the region, offering hot meals to the migrants. There is no NGO presence in the area as of Tuesday.

Turkish authorities are sending water tanks to the border. Photo by Greek Reporter

Most migrants are law-abiding people, but there is also a small percentage of agitators intent on provoking Greek security forces into a violent response.

The longer the migrants remain at the border, the greater the likelihood of these people turning to violent means to storm the border.

Migrants gather wood to light fires in order to keep warm. Photo by Greek Reporter

There are mixed feelings about this massing of migrants among the local Turks. Some, including taxi drivers, have benefited from the rush to the border, as they charge gouging fares for the relatively short trip from Edirne (Andrianoupolis) and other small towns to the border.

But many are unhappy with the after-effects which have already begun to occur in the tourist industry. Edirne, in the far northwestern corner of Turkey, is a magnet for Greek and Bulgarian tourists who make daily trips to take advantage of cheaper prices on a whole array of consumer goods.

The current crisis has understandably completely cut off the flow of tourists to that area.

Turkish farmers working in their fields next to a group of migrants. Photo by Greek Reporter

In addition, Greek Reporter learns that Turkish farmers are unhappy as vast swaths of their valuable farmland has been taken over by huge groups of migrants.

Overall, Turkish public opinion is in favor of Erdogan’s open borders policy, since the prevailing view is that the country — which currently houses 3.7 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world — has reached its limits and cannot accommodate any more.

Mujgan is less than 1 year old and she has been sleeping out in the fields for the past few days. She was spotted by Greek Reporter with her mother near the Greek-Turkish border as they were walking to the hospital, which is 10 km away. Her mother, whose shoe was ripped, hopes that eventually the Greek border will open and she and Mujgan will have a brighter future in Northern Europe than they did in their homeland of Afghanistan.
Migrants sleeping out in the open on the Turkish frontier. Photo by Greek Reporter