Given the scale of the arrivals, the gesture is above all symbolic. From Berlin, the German government announced Monday March 9 that a coalition of countries “Volunteers” of the European Union (EU) plans to care for up to 1,500 migrant children stranded on the Greek islands as a support measure “Humanitarian”. The names of the countries involved have not been specified.
→ REPORTAGE. Migrants: between Greece and Turkey, a boiling border
Tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to cross the border between Turkey and Greece since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on February 29 that he is no longer respecting a March 2016 agreement with the EU. The agreement provided for migrants to stay in Turkey in exchange for European financial aid to Ankara.
Erdogan in Brussels
“We want to support Greece to cope with the difficult humanitarian situation of 1,000 to 1,500 children on the islands” from the country, added conservative and social democratic Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition parties after a multi-hour meeting that started on Sunday 8 March.
“These are children who, due to illness urgently need care, or unaccompanied children under the age of 14, mostly girls”, they pointed out.
Greek authorities announced Thursday that more than 1,700 migrants have arrived on the Greek islands, adding to the 38,000 already present who are overcrowding the refugee camps in increasingly precarious conditions.
→ ZOOM. Migrants: Greece calls on Europe for help
The Turkish president is expected in Brussels on Monday to discuss the migration issue with EU leaders. “I will have a meeting with European Union officials tomorrow in Belgium”, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul broadcast on television. He added hope “Come back from Belgium with different results”.
Obtain EU support for Russia and Syria
Turkey is using the refugee issue to get more on other fronts: it wants EU support for its military operations in northern Syria. The Syrian regime’s offensive, backed by Moscow, against Idlib province (northwest), the last rebel stronghold in Syria and backed by Ankara, has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with nearly one million people displaced.
Before this meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also eased migration pressure on the EU by ordering his coastguards to prevent migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea, another route to Greece. While suggesting to the country“Open its doors”. “Let them go to other European countries”, he called.