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Thou­sands of migrants who had been wait­ing for a month now on the Gre­co-Turk­ish bor­der were dis­crete­ly trans­ferred because of the Covid-19 virus, to var­i­ous towns, in total silence. The migrants and Greece have accused the gen­darmes of burn­ing down all the tents.

One Syr­i­an migrant who spoke by phone with Sendika.Org on the morn­ing of March 27 said they had been forced onto the bus­es: “They told us we would be trans­ferred to Malatya. Some of my friends were sent to Osmaniye. I want­ed to go there too, because I’m reg­is­tered in Adana (a town neigh­bor­ing Osmaniye). But they would­n’t let me. We’ve been onboard the bus for hours. We haven’t had any­thing to eat or drink. There are women, chil­dren… The gen­darmes in the vehi­cle only bought some­thing after we protested.”

Of note here: the dis­tance between Pazarkule and Osmaniye is approx­i­mate­ly 1 270 km and between Pazarkule and Malatya, 1 340 km.


Lat­er, the same migrant spoke to jour­nal­ists, con­firm­ing they had been tak­en to the “Beyda­gi Res­i­den­tial Estab­lish­ment” in Malatya, which con­sists of a con­tain­er camp.

An Iran­ian migrant con­tact­ed by Sendika.Org con­firmed for his part that they had been forced onto the bus­es. He stat­ed that no expla­na­tions were giv­en and that they were tak­en to Bey­dağı in Malatya. “All our belong­ings were left behind in Pazarkule. I don’t know what will hap­pen to us, but I’m very much afraid of being deport­ed. I don’t want to be sent back to Iran. We are queu­ing up now. They will be tak­ing away our phones shortly.”

Oth­er refugees con­firmed being trans­ferred to Osmaniye and the “Res­i­den­tial Estab­lish­ments” of Düz­içi, also a con­tain­er camp.


Pho­tos tak­en by a migrant. The entrance to the Düz­içi camp and the food hand­ed out for the trip.

The tents were burned in Pazarkule

Images filmed by a migrant and shared on social net­works on March 27 show the burn­ing tents. Con­ver­sa­tions are over­heard: “The Turk­ish sol­diers are burn­ing down our tents! They are chas­ing us away from here!”

More­over, the Greek gov­ern­ment accused the Turk­ish author­i­ties of burn­ing down the tents pri­or to even begin­ning the evac­u­a­tion of the migrants.

5 800 migrants in 9 towns

The Turk­ish Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or Süley­man Soy­lu announced that 5 800 migrants were spread out over 9 towns and “greet­ed” in reten­tion cen­ters where they will be quar­an­tined for 14 days. In Turkey, the lit­er­al trans­la­tion for the reten­tion cen­ters is “Expul­sion centers”.

He also pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing those Alge­ri­ans whose return was refused by Alge­ria and who were stuck inside Istan­bul air­port. They will be sent back to Karabük, between Ankara and the Black Sea Coast.

Without speaking its name…

Süley­man Soy­lu did not fail to send a mes­sage to Europe: “We were forced to per­form this oper­a­tion as a pre­cau­tion. But no one should feel relieved over it. Once the risk of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion will have dis­ap­peared, we won’t say no to those who want to return to Pazarkule. All we did was to take mea­sures out of health and human­i­tar­i­an concerns.”

A common appeal by international organizations

While the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment is thus “greet­ing” today those migrants it had pre­vi­ous­ly “invit­ed” to head for the bor­der, 21 inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions pub­lished an urgent appeal today, con­cern­ing the migrants fac­ing Covid-19.

While the world is con­front­ed to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the risks for the refugees on the Greek islands increase hourly. Hence­forth they are also con­front­ed by the threat of the pan­dem­ic, the con­se­quences of which would be cat­a­stroph­ic for the peo­ple con­fined inside the camps.”

Here is the link to the Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al web­site in order to sign the peti­tion: Greece: Urgent­ly pro­tect refugees from COVID-19

You may also want to read: Euro­pean bor­der: stay­ing, going back, which is the hardest?

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.