Asylum seekers wait in Lesbos harbor | Photo: Picture-alliance/AA/A.Mehmet
Asylum seekers wait in Lesbos harbor | Photo: Picture-alliance/AA/A.Mehmet

Turkish government sources say the aim of the video call is to rework a 2016 deal that obliges Turkey to prevent refugees entering the EU in return for financial aid.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to hold a video conference on Tuesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria and the thousands of refugees attempting to cross the Turkish-Greek border.

The leaders initially planned to convey in Istanbul but switched to a video call due to the coronavirus crisis.

How did the latest refugee crisis start?

At the end of February, Erdogan vowed to open Turkey's border for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe until the EU meets each of Ankara's demands over a 2016 migration deal with the bloc.

The move led to a chaotic influx of thousands of people trying to enter the EU at the Turkish-Greek border or via sea borders.

What is the situation at the Greece-Turkey border?

Images have shown migrants being tear-gassed as they tried to force their way across the border. Greek authorities have also used water cannon against those trying to enter.

Erdogan had said Greece's treatment of migrants and refugees at their border was akin to the Nazi regime.

Greece has suspended asylum applications for a month.

What is happening in Syria?

As of Sunday, the ongoing war in Syria entered its tenth year. The conflict has displaced 11 million people, and killed more than 384,000, including 116,000 civilians.

Most recently, nearly 1 million people were forced to flee when fighting broke out between Russian and Turkish forces in the northwestern region of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the country.

A ceasefire is now in place, but the conflict has left a humanitarian crisis which has left thousands of people scrambling to find food, shelter and health supplies.

mvb/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

First published: March 17, 2020

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