Migrants at the border with Europe
Text and video Tulin Tezel

Migrants at the Border with Europe

“We will no longer keep the doors closed for refugees who want to go to Europe.” Turkey announced this in protest of what it sees as Western inaction in Syria. An Assad regime airstrike killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib in late February, and as a NATO member Turkey expected much stronger support from European countries in its fight for Idlib and more broadly in supporting its troops east of the Euphrates. However, neither NATO nor any European countries gave Turkey any of that expected support.

A migrant walks past a poster of Kemal Ataturk, founder and former President of the modern Turkey, near the Turkish-Greek border in Pazarkule, Edirne region, Turkey, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The renewed refugee crisis and what is happening in Syria is a global international challenge. Turkey’s decision to open the border is a message to the world to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Now, thousands of refugees are gathered at the Turkish-Greek border searching for a better life.

They are a group of people whose destiny has entrapped them in a life of war and violence. Hoping to break free from this fate, they fling themselves into the unforgiving seas of life. But instead of pulling them out of this fate, life has left them trapped in the midst of two war zones. They fled one war only to be stranded on the shores of a similar war. Other than escaping aerial bombardment, these people are still being bombarded with the same bullets and smoke bombs that they initially fled from in their home country. The situation on the Greek-Turkish border is horrifying.

A migrant woman sits as a baby sleeps at an abandoned building in Edirne, near the Turkish-Greek border on Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

“Our tents got wet on the inside and it’s raining and we have small kids. They are a few months old, they are too young for this cold and this situation.” said Issa Adel-Rahman. Young children, women and the elderly are exposed to the cold weather with no protection from their sopping tents. They must stand for hours and wait in order to obtain a small meal. People who have never even seen a tent in their lives are humbly waiting for officials to allow them to pass through. Most refugees do not even intend on staying in Greece. Their only wish is to reunite with family members who are living in different European countries. Some people have been separated from their families for years. Others are hoping to stay with friends and start a new beginning.

Refugees sleeping on the ground inside a tent close to the Turkish-Greek border as they wait to go Europe @Tulin Tezel

The refugees express their gratitude to Turkey for opening their doors to them when they fled the war in their home country. Turkey was the only country to help them in their time of need. However, most of these refugees are seeking a higher standard of living than Turkey can offer. Some of the conditions in Turkey are no longer adequate for the life that they yearn for. Some families mentioned the long working hours that prevent them from seeing their children. Some families mentioned the high rents that they could no longer accommodate.

Refugee children living in extreme conditions near the Greek border to Europe @Tulin Tezel

“We hope for an even better standard of living. The monthly rent is a bit expensive; the cheapest rent is 600 Turkish liras. 600 liras is not something we have nor do I have someone who can earn it. I’m 60 years old,” said Issa Abdel-Rahman who wants to reunite with his daughter, who lives in Germany. Their hope and dream is to finally live the life they dream of in Europe. Greece was supposed to be a beacon of light and hope, guiding the refugees on their voyage through the turbulent seas. Greece was supposed to be the “Mother of Civilization,” but the people of Greece have turned their backs on these oppressed women and children. Instead of offering a motherly hand, they fired on them and pushed them away like animals.

Greek security force use teargas against stone-throwing migrants at the Turkish-Greek border in Pazarkule, Edirne region, Turkey. (AP Photo)

Haytham Abdul-Majeed, 9 years old said: “Every time I go to the border, Greek soldiers shoot us with rubber bullets and tear gas.” Millions of refugee children are also missing out on receiving an education and Haytham is only one of many. He would like to study and improve his skills like some of his lucky peers who do get an education, however he has to find a home to live in and be safe with his dad. These people are not terrorists or criminals. They are innocent people fleeing oppression in their homeland. All that these people desire is the hope for a new life. No one should be bound to a life of fear and hopelessness. All people deserve the chance to go to bed with a roof over their heads, without the worry of bombs falling on their houses. All people deserve to put their children to bed with a full stomach, without the worry of starvation.

Text and video Tulin Tezel