Thousands of Syrian refugees seeking to enter Greece through Turkish border

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey are attempting to enter Greece after they have faced mounting racist attacks and tensions in the country, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The refugees are rallying together along the border between Turkey and Greece to enter the EU collectively, the Guardian said.

Since early September, Syrians have been planning the journey via a Telegram channel, which has more than 85,000 members.

The actual number of the refugees in the caravan remains unclear, organisers who are themselves Syrian refugees reveal that there are about 100,000 people.

The refugee caravan was prompted by the “abhorrent racism” against them promoted by “some parties in the Turkish republic” which has resulted in a series of deadly attacks, the organizers told the Guardian.

The organisers also cited Turkish government’s recent plan to relocate the Syrian refugees living in Turkey into the areas of the Syrian regime, which may put their lives in jeopardy.

On Monday evening, members of the caravan were attacked on the Greek border by people smugglers, the organisers told the Guardian. On Tuesday, the refugees decided to regroup in Istanbul before going to the border together in one group.

Some members of the Telegram group are worried that they would be deported back to Syria if they were caught.

The Syrian refugees request the UN to protect Syrian refugees from “all forms of physical, psychological and political abuse”. They also urged the Syrian interim government to put pressure over the EU “to open their doors to this convoy or find immediate solutions”.

About 400 people have been forced to return to their homes in Idlib, Syria, after they attempted to cross the Syrian border into Turkey to join the caravan but were attacked by hardliner Islamist militants, the Guardian said.

Many Syrians want to leave Turkey because of the rise in racism, as well as financial difficulties caused by economic inflation, Taha Elghazi, a prominent Syrian refugee rights activist in Turkey, told the Guardian

The Turkish government will not allow groups to gather at the border with Greece, while EU countries are also tightening security on their borders, Elghazi said.  

“All of these factors mean that there will be brutal treatment of refugees when they are on this trip, and the caravan’s approach is not clear and it may endanger them,” he told the Guardian.

Anti-Syrian racism is becoming an alarming trend across Turkey, according to refugee rights groups.

Faris Mohammed al-Ali, an 18-year-old Syrian, was killed in a racist attack in Turkey at the beginning of September. In a separate incident in May, 70-year-old Syrian woman Leyla Mohammed was kicked in the face by a Turkish man. Both incidents led to public backlash in the country.

However, many racist attacks are not reported since victims fear that they may be forcibly returned to Syria, the Guardian cited Sara Hashash, at the Syria Campaign, a human rights advocacy group, as saying.

“Syrian refugees have fled a bloody conflict, torture, enforced disappearance and other abhorrent abuses to seek safety in Turkey. It is appalling that they now find themselves facing further attacks,” she added.

150 Syrians have been forcibly deported from Turkey so far this year, even though some of them had official identification documents.

The Turkish government has recently promised to carry out a plan to forcibly relocate one million Syrians to north-east Syria.

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