Refugee drama at the Greek-Turkish border “We can’t go back”

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Thousands of refugees are waiting in the border area, the tone between Greece and Turkey is becoming sharper. Parliamentarians in Athens discuss a plan that recalls dark years in the country’s history.

A few kilometres from the Greek-Turkish border, Zehra, a young woman from Afghanistan, is standing there, wondering if she should dare to do it again: Should she really go back to this border crossing, which leads to Europe but is more dangerous than almost any other on the continent?

Zehra, 16 years old, comes from Kunduz. Together with thousands of refugees, she has been waiting for days in the Turkish-Greek border area in the hope of making it to Europe after all, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised the migrants.

The trainers on her feet do not fit her. Her real shoes were stolen when she first tried to enter Europe, she says.

A propaganda war has broken out between Greece and Turkey
Zehra says that she and her family crossed the border river Evros in a rubber dinghy. In Greece, they walked for hours on end further and further into the country, and at some point they wanted to shop in a kiosk.

The owner called the police. Greek officials took them away, beat them with truncheons, took some of their clothes, mobile phones and papers and then dragged them back to Turkey.

Zehras’ accusations cannot be clearly substantiated, but they are consistent with the statements of other fugitives. Several of those concerned told the SPIEGEL how they were illegally deported from Greece to Turkey. Some said that they had been beaten and maltreated by Greek border guards.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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