Ministers questioned on the refugee crisis at the Turkish-Greek border

10 March 2020

Joanna Cherry QC MP asked ministers to outline support for refugees at the border between Greece and Turkey.

Last week around 35,000 refugees became trapped at the border between Turkey and Greece after President Erdoğan broke a pact that required Turkey to house Syrian refugees in return for around £5 billion from the EU. Greece has halted asylum claims for a month and have deployed riot police to try and force refugees to turn back.

The situation at border crossings and camps has deteriorated, with vigilantes attacking refugees and preventing them from coming ashore. Journalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also been targeted.

Today Joanna Cherry QC MP asked an urgent question to ministers from the Foreign Office about the matter.

Nigel Adams MP: "very concerned"

Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Nigel Adams MP said that the Government was "very concerned" about the situation at the border. However, he said that the cause of the crisis should not be ignored, highlighting the Syrian regime and the support it receives from Russia.

Mr Adams told MPs that the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister had discussed the matter with their Greek and Turkish counterparts. He said that they would continue to support the EU-Turkey migration deal.

The Minister outlined the assistance that the UK had provided to Greece and Turkey, including aiding search and rescue efforts, providing translators and helping with capacity building projects.

He concluded:

"Preventing a further worsening of the humanitarian crisis is imperative and the UK will do all it can to support those in need."

Joanna Cherry QC MP: "a humanitarian disaster"

Responding to the Minister, Joanna Cherry highlighted the extreme violence refugees are facing, particularly child refugees, with "mobs" attacking journalists and aid workers.

Ms Cherry said that "aggressive measures" had been employed by the Greek authorities, with migrants "stripped naked and beaten" and one person shot dead.

She asked the Minister what the Government was going to do to help child refugees on the Greek islands, what representations the UK Government has made to Greece and Turkey to end human rights abuses against refugees, and how they would help NGOs who have been forced to halt operations amid the violence.

The MP stated:

"I want to know what the UK Government is going to do on the ground to ease this humanitarian disaster."

Image: PA Images/Mohammad

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