International

Greek refugee centre set ablaze

Athens, March 8 (IANS) | Publish Date: 3/8/2020 9:47:30 AM IST

A fire ripped through a refugee centre on the Greek island of Lesbos as tensions over a surge in migrants from Turkey have continued to escalate.

Flames engulfed the One Happy Family centre, near the island’s capital Mitilini, on Saturday, the BBC said in a report, adding that it was not immediately clear how the blaze started. No causalities have been reported.
Hundreds of migrants have attempted to reach the island since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that he was “opening the doors” for refugees to enter Europe. But on Saturday, Erdogan partially reversed his position and ordered the Turkish coastguard to stop migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece because it was unsafe to do so, the BBC report said.
Amid the escalating tense situation, clashes have also erupted at the land border between Greece and Turkey. While Turkey’s Interior Ministry said 149,000 had left the country for Greece, Athens said only 252 had made it across and all were detained and returned, reports Efe news.
Greek officials have claimed to have prevented 36,649 from crossing.
Meanwhile, the European Union called on Turkey to counter “false information” to stop refugees from gathering on the border with Greece.
Erdogan had opened his borders last week not long after a Syrian government airstrike killed at least 34 Turkish soldiers who had been stationed in Idlib province.
Idlib is the last province held by Syrian rebels.
Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million Syrians but the conflict in Idlib has led to nearly a million more fleeing to its southern border.

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