According to Syrian organizers, the “Caravan of Light” numbers 100,000 refugees
The “caravan of light” – a convoy of thousands of illegal migrants, mainly from Syria, has gathered in Edirne and is preparing for an assault on the Greek border, the Focus agency reports. The goal of the refugees is to cross the EU border together and, moving north through the Balkans, make their way to Western Europe and their final destination – Germany.
The agency cited Turkish TV channel Orient, which also aired drone video of the crowd. It was also widely distributed on social networks. However, fact-checking by French public media France24 showed that the video was filmed during the great migration to Europe in 2015 and did not reflect the current campaign.
Three days ago, the Guardian reported that the crowd called on the UN to protect them from “all forms of physical, psychological and political violence”. The refugees also want the Syrian government to undertake diplomatic efforts in the EU “to open its doors to this convoy or to find immediate solutions”. Since the beginning of September, the Syrians have been drawing plans for the trip through their Telegram channel, which has more than 85,000 followers, the British newspaper recalled.
Yuko Narushima, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told the Guardian that the agency was aware of reports on social media of organizing large movements of people from Turkey to the EU, but had not participated in or encouraged it.
Organizers, who are believed to be Syrian refugees themselves, have told people to bring sleeping bags, tents, life jackets, water, canned goods and first aid kits. The actual number of people in the caravan is unclear, but organizers say around 100,000 people are expected.
Syrian refugees number more than 3.5 million in Turkey, where there have been recent reports of rising tensions and violence against Syrians in some parts of the country. In a statement, the organizers explained that the caravan, which “emerged from the womb of the revolution”, was prompted by the “abhorrent racism” they had been exposed to by “some parties in the Turkish Republic” and which they said had led to an increase in the killing of Syrians . The organizers of the convoy cited as the reason for the decision the pressure to return to the areas of the Syrian regime, which would mean putting their lives at risk again.
Around 400 people have already been forced to return to their homes in Idlib after they tried to cross the Syrian border with Turkey to join the caravan but were attacked by hardline Islamist fighters.
According to European Insider’s Twitter account, on September 22, around 1,500 men tried to cross the Turkish border at the Maritsa River, but were repelled by Greece’s border forces. This was confirmed by the Ministry of Civil Protection of our southern neighbor. The same source claims that the big storm is expected today (Saturday). The organizers say that this is just the beginning: in total, up to ten such “convoys” may be formed this fall, adds “Focus”.
The situation was also noticed by the Bulgarian authorities. Yesterday, the regional governor of Haskovo, Minko Angelov, declared a partial state of emergency due to the migrant pressure in the municipalities of Svilengrad and Topolovgrad. For now, the measures are in effect until September 29.
In turn, Greece plans to multiply patrols, and a few weeks ago the government’s National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis decided to extend the security wall along the border with Turkey from 40 to 120 kilometers. At the end of August, it was reported that thanks to the measures taken by the authorities, in 2021 Greece had the lowest number of refugees admitted in a decade – 8,500. This year marked the second lowest number in the last decade, with arrivals in the first eight months amount to seven thousand.