Syrian migrants determined to march on amid ‘deadline’
EDİRNE – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoEdirne’s governor has given a large number of refugees three days to leave his border province following the beginning of a march by Syrian refugees to the Thracian region in an effort to cross by land into Greece en route to Germany.
Around 2,000 Syrian migrants have continued waiting near the highway linking Europe to Turkey, some of them in tents they brought with them and others on blankets distributed by aid organizations.
While around 800 migrants, including children, began a hunger strike in an effort to be allowed to enter Greece, Edirne Gov. Dursun Ali Şahin issued an ultimatum to the refugees, telling them they had three days to leave the province.
“The last group of around 2,000 people insists on not leaving. We have gotten no result from our persuasion efforts. I personally talked to their leaders and he said they wanted to go to Greece so that they can reach European countries. I told them that they could be [Edirne’s] guests for two or three days but they would eventually have to leave,” told Şahin a group of journalists on Sept. 16.
“The utmost they can stay is three days, they have to leave this place the day after tomorrow [Sept. 18]. We have our own duties; this has been a great burden on us,” he said, adding that it was a problem for Syrian migrants to be in Edirne.
Şahin said they wanted to send the migrants to their hometowns or to refugee camps, adding that “it was for certain that they would not stay [in Edirne].”
“They will also not be allowed to come near the Greek or Bulgarian borders. The … border area is forbidden to migrants,” said Şahin.
As the governor vowed to make the migrants leave the province, migrants on the side of the TEM highway continued to insist on staying near the border.
A Syrian woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that Greece would allow the migrants to cross the border, if only the Turkish police would let them.
“We cannot survive in Turkey’s conditions. Therefore, we want to go to Europe. We have come this far, but they [the Turkish security forces] do not let us cross into Greece,” the Syrian migrant woman told Doğan News Agency.
While most of the migrants are determined to stay in Edirne, three families, a total of 20 people, have asked the gendarmerie for help to return to Istanbul, as they understood they would not be allowed to cross the border.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrian migrants continue to flock to Istanbul’s largest bus station to board a bus to Edirne in an attempt to cross into Europe.
Migrants began arriving at the station in Istanbul’s Esenler district on Sept. 15 and have been waiting there since even though bus companies departing for Thrace refuse to transport them.
On the morning of Sept. 16, employees of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality arrived in cars to distribute food and water to the migrants. While some accepted the food, others protested saying what they wanted was not food but to go to Edirne.
“We want to go to Edirne. Our tickets, which we purchased five days ago, were cancelled today. When we asked why, they said Syrians were not allowed to leave,” said Hüseyin Aljumaa, a 19-year-old Syrian migrant.
“We are thankful for the food, but that’s not what we want. We just want to leave, nothing else,” he added.
The migrants attempted to start a march toward Edirne, but were prevented by the police. They later started to chant “Edirne” and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great in Arabic).
Turkish police made announcements in Arabic to calm the group.
After an increase in deadly migrant boat disasters costing thousands of lives in the Aegean Sea, some have begun to set their eyes on land routes to cross into Europe.