Greek border with Turkey remains closed as thousands of migrants attempt illegal crossings

Greek border with Turkey remains closed as thousands of migrants attempt illegal crossings

Greek authorities thwarted an overnight attempt of about 1,000 people trying to cross the Ervos River into the country from Turkey, as thousands more search for ways into Greece on land.

Officials said that in 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday morning, 5,183 people were prevented from entering Greece. They said 45 people were detained.

Migrants carrying their belongings pass next to Turkish policemen near the Pazarkule gate in Edirne region, at the Turkish-Greek border on Tuesday. A child died when a boat full of migrants heading to a Greek island capsized Monday, part of a wave of thousands trying to push through Greece's land and sea borders. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Migrants carrying their belongings pass next to Turkish policemen near the Pazarkule gate in Edirne region, at the Turkish-Greek border on Tuesday. A child died when a boat full of migrants heading to a Greek island capsized Monday, part of a wave of thousands trying to push through Greece’s land and sea borders. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

On Tuesday morning, two men — one from Mali and one from Afghanistan — were arrested by Greek authorities shortly after crossing the border, and loaded into a van with about 20 more people, from Somalia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

TURKEY’S ERDOGAN WARNS EUROPE TO EXPECT ‘MILLIONS’ OF MIGRANTS AFTER EASING BORDER RESTRICTIONS

Migrants gather at Maritsa river (Evros river in Greek) near Edirne, at the Turkish-Greek border on Tuesday. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border Tuesday, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Migrants gather at Maritsa river (Evros river in Greek) near Edirne, at the Turkish-Greek border on Tuesday. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border Tuesday, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The new influx of migrants attempting to illegally enter Europe comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country was easing restrictions on those wishing to cross the border to leave Turkey.

Greek Army detain migrants in the village of Mandra, Evros region, at the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. A child died when a boat full of migrants heading to a Greek island capsized Monday, part of a wave of thousands trying to push through Greece's land and sea borders. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Greek Army detain migrants in the village of Mandra, Evros region, at the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. A child died when a boat full of migrants heading to a Greek island capsized Monday, part of a wave of thousands trying to push through Greece’s land and sea borders. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

He said his country, which has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, is unable to cope with a new wave and demands Europe’s support.

“It’s done, the gates are open,” Erdogan said Monday in a televised statement. “You will have your share of this burden now.”

He warned that Europe could expect “millions” of migrants and refugees.

Migrants gather in a field at Maritsa river (Evros river in Greek) near Edirne, at the Turkish-Greek border on Tuesday. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Migrants gather in a field at Maritsa river (Evros river in Greek) near Edirne, at the Turkish-Greek border on Tuesday. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Greek officials said the main pressure on the border Tuesday moved from the official crossing points, farther south along the Evros River. Many hopefuls were trying to wade or row across the waterway.

THOUSANDS OF MIGRANTS MASS TO GREEK BORDER, MORE FLEE SYRIA

Top EU officials took a tour with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the area around the land border to discuss what Greece describes as a threat to its national security.

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, reviews Greek soldiers guard at the Kipoi border gate, Evros region, at the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border Tuesday, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (Dimitris Papamitsos/Greek Prime Minister's Office via AP)

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, reviews Greek soldiers guard at the Kipoi border gate, Evros region, at the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border Tuesday, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (Dimitris Papamitsos/Greek Prime Minister’s Office via AP)

The movement by migrants appeared well organized, with buses, minibuses and cars in Istanbul ferrying people to the border, roughly a three- to four-hour drive from the Turkish capital.

The vast majority appeared to be Afghans, along with those from Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh, and Syria, the Associated Press reported.

Greece has made it clear that its borders are closed. Military and police reinforcements have used tear gas and water cannons to repel attempts by migrants to cross into the country.

Migrants wait to leave from the village of Skala Sikaminias on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border Tuesday, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (AP Photo/Alexandros Michailidis)

Migrants wait to leave from the village of Skala Sikaminias on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Migrants and refugees hoping to enter Greece from Turkey appeared to be fanning out across a broader swathe of the roughly 200-kilometer-long land border Tuesday, maintaining pressure on the frontier after Ankara declared its borders with the European Union open. (AP Photo/Alexandros Michailidis)

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A young boy died Monday after the dinghy he was in capsized off the island of Lesbos. The other 47 people in the boat were rescued.

Since early Saturday – when the first influx of migrants attempted to cross the border – Greek authorities have stopped more than 24,000 illegal crossings at the land border with Turkey and arrested 183 people. Very few of them were Syrians, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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