The German government has issued a strong rebuttal to Turkey's claim that 'the door is open' to Europe. Thousands of people have rushed to the land and sea borders between Turkey and Greece, but few have managed to cross.
By late Tuesday, Greek authorities said they had arrested 218 people who had crossed the land border with Turkey. The migrants were taken to detention facilities, a source in Greece told InfoMigrants. Since Saturday, authorities had stopped about 26,500 attempted land border crossings. The source confirmed that these people were sent back into Turkey.
More than 1,700 migrants have arrived in Greece from Turkey via the Aegean Sea route since last Friday, with a peak of 902 arrivals, most on Lesbos island, on Sunday, March 1. Only about 50 arrivals were reported on Tuesday. This may have been due to rough weather conditions, a spokesperson from Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), an NGO based in Chios, said.
Migrants arriving on the islands are not able to apply for asylum since Greece announced a suspension of applications for one month from March 1.
The migrants who have landed on the islands since Sunday have been arrested and are being held in and around the Mytilene harbor area on Lesbos and in other facilities in Chios, the RSA spokesperson told InfoMigrants on Wednesday. He said the Greek authorities plan to transfer the migrants to the pre-removal centers on the mainland, from where they will likely be returned to Turkey. "It is not clear [what will happen] because many of them do not have travel documents," the spokesman said. "The government's plan is to send them back to Turkey or to their countries."
According to the Greek government, most of the recent arrivals are from African countries or Afghanistan, with only a few from Syria.
Are boats being turned back?
Yes, though it is not clear how many. Since the weekend, the Greek coast guard has begun turning boats of migrants back towards Turkey. On Monday, a Turkish video showed the coast guard pushing a boat full of migrants while an officer fired shots into the water.