Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights, on Monday released a statement urging Turkish and Greek authorities to ensure humanitarian assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants trapped at the Turkish-Greek border.
“The human rights situation at the border between Turkey and Greece where thousands of vulnerable men, women and children are trapped between borders without access to assistance or the possibility to seek international protection is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis,” the statement read. “Urgent action is now needed to prevent the situation from getting even worse.”
Mijatović also called on border authorities to refrain from using excessive force and de-escalate violence.
“I am particularly concerned by the complete closure of border posts by Greece, which is being followed by other member states. I am also concerned about Turkey’s actions in the last days that have encouraged people to move to the border and have left them in this situation.”
The commissioner also expressed alarm at reports that people in distress in the Aegean Sea have not been rescued and that others have been pushed back or endangered.
According to a report by AFP, Greek border authorities blocked nearly 10,000 migrants trying to enter via the land border between the two countries. Greek government sources announced the mobilization of army and police forces to stop thousands from entering Greece.
On Saturday clashes erupted along the border, where Greek police fired tear gas at migrants who in turn lobbed rocks at officers.
The latest migrant surge follows Turkey’s decision to stop enforcing a 2016 agreement with the European Union whereby it prevented migrants from entering the bloc in return for billions of euros in aid.