Protests at Greek Border After 46 Migrants Drown

Protests at Greek Border After 46 Migrants DrownProtests at Greek Border After 46 Migrants Drown

A day after 46 migrants drowned in a choppy Aegean Sea, protesters demonstrated on Saturday at a Greek border town to demand that Greece ease transit restrictions at its heavily militarized border with Turkey.

Most of the 200-km land border between Greece and Turkey is separated by the Evros River—known as the Meric River in Turkey. But a 12.5-km stretch of land separating the two countries was previously lined with minefields and is now separated by a fence, AP reported.

The area is guarded by police and military patrols on land and on the river, a network of cameras and a few officers from the European border protection agency, Frontex.

Wearing life vests and foil blankets, the demonstrators chanted, “This fence means refugees drown!” as they kicked off two days of protests in the area. They are planning a march on Sunday toward the border fence.

“It’s vital that the fence is removed. It’s because of the fence that refugee families are forced to travel across the Aegean and people are drowning on a daily basis,” said protester Michalis Sopatzoglou, who traveled from the Greek island of Lesbos to join Saturday’s rally.

At least 60 people have died in Greek waters this month while trying to cross from Turkey to the Greek islands in poor weather, using unseaworthy boats provided by Turkish smuggling gangs.

Marie Elisabeth Ingres, Greek mission chief for the charity Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, said creating a “safe point of passage” at the Greek-Turkish border should be a priority.

More than 850,000 asylum-seekers traveled to Greek islands in 2015 on their journey to central and northern Europe, in the continent’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.